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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: boating

Fishing Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass by Hobie “Pedal” Craft!

by on Jun.18, 2016, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

 

 

 

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Charlotte Harbor “turns into” Pine Island Sound at an imaginary line drawn east from the mouth of Boca Grande Pass.  And for the most part, all the water in the upper half of the sound, as well as much of Charlotte Harbor, is moved by the action of that pass.  The lower half of the sound is affected by the pull of water from the Caloosahatchee River at Fort Myers and generally feeds into San Carlos Bay, to the south.  Matlacha Pass lies to the east of Pine Island and it’s water typically flows more strongly to the south on falling tides. What all this has to do with fishing is that the ebb and flow of the tides here and the constant filling and flushing of the harbor, the sound and Matlacha Pass all move bait, and with it–lots of inshore species of game fish.

This is big water, and that generally calls for big boats.  However, there’s plenty of good fishing within range of paddle or pedal craft.  On a recent trip, sponsored by the Hobie Cat Company, the leading manufacturer of pedal craft, I had the opportunity to fish the shoreline of Pine Island in a variety of weather conditions.  With summer thunderstorms building and winds howling, I experienced the ease with which I was able to move about, using my legs to power the boat, and all the while being able to continue fishing. Hobie not only pioneered pedal-style “kayaks”, but that segment of their business is now significant–with fishing “boats” the largest part of that segment.  I’ve paddled conventional kayaks and tried to fish from them, but there’s no comparison.  The ability to navigate your craft while still fishing has tremendous advantages.   Hobie’s MirageDrive, Turbo Fins and Vantage Seat have made their Pro Angler the go-to boat for serious kayak anglers!

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

While there are several primitive roadside launch spots on Pine Island, Hobie did their research and put us in the water (in about 15 kayaks!) at some places where we’d have easy reach to the fishing grounds.  That’s not to say that we didn’t pedal as much as 5 miles, but the beauty of the rugged Pine Island shoreline is such that you don’t have to go far to catch fish.  And, when you get “home” you want to be able to easily load the boats onto trucks or trailers and have a cold beverage.  Luckily, locals like Frank Stapleton (Hobie’s Sales Rep) and John Donahue (local writer and man-about-town) know the area well and provided welcome guidance for fishing, launching and cold beverages.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Hobie, along with PR Pro Ingrid Niehaus, put on a first class event.   We stayed at The Tarpon Lodge at Pineland, and even had a fun dinner at Cabbage Key, also owned by the Wells family.  The event was also sponsored by the local tourism office, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.  And, in terms of easy access to water, we found great kayak launches at Pineland Marina and at the county park/boat ramp at Matlacha, on the east side of the island.

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheesburger in Paradise”

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Tarpon Lodge

Tarpon Lodge

Cabbage Key

Cabbage Key

Dollar bills....a Cabbage Key tradition--along with the  original "Cheesburger in Paradise"

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheeseburger in Paradise”

There are lots of options when it comes to fishing the waters here.  But there are no limitations to tackle.  Some of our group used light spinning gear, while others used baitcasters or fly rods.  The Hobie boats are stable, making it easy to get out and wade, or to stand while fishing.  The waters are generally shallow, making it a perfect place to throw topwater plugs (MirrOlure Top Dogs) or soft plastics (D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp or CALs).

 

 

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Fishing the flats in Pine Island Sound, just a short paddle from the Tarpon Lodge and Pineland Marina

 

 

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There’s no problem standing up–or fly fishing–from a Hobie Pro Angler kayak!

 

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It’s just a short paddle north from the Matlacha boat ramp to the backwaters of Buzzard Bay.

 

 

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Tips from Yamaha on Understanding Marine Electrical Systems

by on Sep.03, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

The electrical system on your boat is the power behind the power. Without it, the outboards won’t start, the pumps won’t pump, the lights won’t illuminate and the navigational electronics show only black screen. Many boat owners don’t have a basic knowledge of the electrical system on their vessels and that lack of knowledge can result in lost days on the water or worse. Today’s outboard powered boats have sophisticated power distribution systems that incorporate multiple batteries, isolators, chargers, breakers, switches and fuses – you should understand the function of each.

Multi-engine installations, like this Contender with triple Yamaha F350’s, have complex electrical systems that require a basic understanding from the operator.
Power systems vary with the size of the boat, the number of engines and the power demands of the systems on board. Vessels with multiple outboard engines and a larger compliment of electrically-powered accessories require a more robust and complex system than a single-outboard skiff. Keep in mind that not all of the components covered in this issue are found on all outboard boats.

Joe Vizzosi recently took delivery of a new Yamaha-powered 39-foot Contender® with three F350 outboards. While he only had the boat for a week when he welcomed us aboard, he was already able to walk us through the components of the electrical system, from the batteries to the breakers at the helm switch panel, allowing us to shoot pictures along the way. This boat has a far more complex electrical system than smaller outboard-powered boats with fewer engines and batteries. Vizzosi’s understanding of the systems onboard was impressive.

“It’s critical to know where everything is located and its function in the system,” he said. “While electrical systems on newer boats are pretty foolproof and trouble-free, you never know when you’ll run into a problem with the power supply to your navigational electronics or running lights. If that happens offshore, you have to be able to fix it.”

Here’s a brief rundown of the major components commonly found in modern outboard-powered boats.

Cranking Batteries

Cranking batteries as well as storage or deep-cycle batteries benefit from on-board smart chargers that keep them topped off and ready for use.
Cranking batteries are dedicated only to starting your outboard engines. Once they do their job, they’re immediately recharged by the engine alternator. They are designed to provide a burst of amperage to the starter motor and, therefore, must be capable of providing the cold cranking amperage (CCA) required by the engine manufacturer to accomplish the job. CCA is a rating that defines a battery’s ability to start an engine at 0°F (-17.8°C), and can range from 250 CCA for low horsepower electric start outboards to 750 CCA for high horsepower V6 and V8 outboards. New boats come equipped with appropriately sized cranking batteries, but be sure to check your outboard owner’s manual when the time comes to replace old batteries.

Storage Batteries
Also called house batteries, storage batteries provide the power to run all the boat’s electrical accessories like running lights, bilge and bait well pumps, navigational and communications electronics, entertainment systems, anchor windlass, bow thruster, power steering, and air conditioning. Storage batteries also power refrigeration on larger boats or electric trolling motors on bass and walleye boats. This system can range from a single battery on smaller boats to a bank of batteries on boats that require more amperage, and they are typically deep-cycle type. Deep cycle batteries are designed to provide constant power over long periods of time and, unlike cranking batteries, are capable of withstanding extreme discharges and recharges without damage.

Battery Isolator

A battery isolator is useful for distributing charge from the alternators to batteries that most need charging.
A battery isolator is a single-direction pathway used for directing the power from the engine’s alternator to two or more batteries. For example, a vessel with twin outboards charging two cranking batteries and a house battery has the current from the alternators pass through the isolator, which distributes it to the batteries. Battery isolators also prevent competing batteries from discharging from one to the other during operation.

Battery Switch

Battery switches allow shutting down current to all stations when the boat is not in use, reducing chances of electrolysis and fire.
A battery switch, or switches in the case of multiple outboard applications, is used to engage or disengage the various batteries on the boat. When the boat is not in use, they are turned off. There are switches designed for single or twin battery applications. For example, a single-outboard boat with two batteries can be operated from a dual battery switch, which can engage them individually (battery 1 or battery 2) or in unison (both). Boats with more than two batteries typically employ a switch for each battery in the system with just an on-off configuration.

Smart Chargers
Smart chargers are more popular than ever for maintaining batteries at maximum capacity when a vessel is not in use. They are available in configurations capable of handling any number of batteries. Smart chargers are installed on the boat with a receptacle for plugging in a shore power cable for connecting them to a land-based 110-volt power supply. They distribute power on an as-needed basis to all the batteries on the boat. They are called “smart chargers” because they automatically detect when a battery falls below full charge, and then they send just the right amount of current to bring it back to full charge without overcharging.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are a part of every electrical system on modern boats, allowing a quick reset after an overload.
The circuit breakers on a boat do the same job as the circuit breakers in your house or apartment. They are an automatic emergency power cut-off in case of a power surge, providing protection for the system and electrical components. Circuit breakers can be found in various locations, not just at the switch panel at the helm. You should always know where all the breakers on your boat are located in case one trips. This will help you to troubleshoot a problem and reset them to restore power to a circuit.

Fuses
The fuses are the last line of defense for accessories like your navigational and communications electronics that are not on individual breakers. A fuse panel is usually found in the vicinity of these items and can be traced by following the power cables from the electronics back to the panel. Most newer boats use automotive-type fuses, but many older vessels are equipped with glass fuses. You should make it a point to carry replacements for every fuse on the boat in case of a failure.

The list above details the common components that make up the power grid on your boat. You should take the time to familiarize yourself with the entire system, from the power source to the batteries to the distribution panels. Knowing and understanding your electrical system is as important as making sure there is gas in the tank before you head out for a day of boating.

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23rd Annual Boating Show, Miller’s Boating Center, Ocala–Feb 28-March 2, 2014

by on Feb.17, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST

Another event to mark on your calendars is the 23rd Annual Boating Show at Miller’s Boating Center in Ocala.  It’s Friday, February 28 through Sunday March 2.  There will be over 200 boats (all at discounted prices), fishing seminars by fresh and saltwater guides and professionals, as well as representatives from manufacturers.  I’ll be doing a few presentations, Saturday and Sunday, on “Big Bend Scalloping”, so stop by and visit.

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“Home Safe” For The Holidays–A Guide to Boating Safety Gifts

by on Dec.02, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

From: The Fishing Wire

We all want our family, friends and loved ones to return home safely from every adventure on the water, whether it’s a day spent fishing, a sail down the coast or an extended voyage to a distant island. We can’t deny that leaving shore behind comes with at least some level of inherent danger from weather, accidents, mechanical failures, fires and rough seas. It’s all part of what makes every day on the water an adventure and every safe return to the dock a joyous occasion.

Fortunately, safety technology has expanded by leaps and bounds over recent years – and nowhere is this more evident than in the area of safety-related marine electronics. It can be a bit daunting for friends and family members to sort through this technology and marketing jargon, to determine what the boaters in their life really need. “Safety technology has seen both rapid growth and evolution, and these products continue to be among our hottest sellers,” said The GPS Store’s Scott Heffernan. “This is particularly true over the Holidays. After all, what better way to show the boaters in your life that you love them than a gift that could literally help save their life some day?”

The NMEA-certified staff of The GPS Store offers this gift-giving guide to the latest safety products, from stocking stuffers to boater’s “dream gifts”:

Ditch Bag – As the name implies, ditch bags like the ACR RapidDitch Express ($49.95 through TheGPSStore.com) are specialized floating bags designed to hold and organize safety gear and electronics for emergency, abandon-ship situations. All the safety gear in the world won’t help you if it’s spread around the boat and inaccessible. Having a good ditch bag is a critical first step to improving the survivability of emergency situations. It keeps things like beacons, lights, radios, signals and GPS close at hand, and even provides added flotation for people in the water.

Emergency Handheld VHF – Most boats have dedicated VHF radios, but if you lose power or can’t reach the radio in an emergency, it won’t help you. A backup handheld VHF with built-in GPS is a great idea; particularly one designed for emergencies like Standard Horizon’s HX851 ($249.95 through TheGPSStore.com). This radio is waterproof and floats; so it can be used to make emergency calls after you’ve abandoned ship. It even glows in the dark and features a strobe light that activates automatically in water – something that will come in handy in darkness or inclement weather. In addition to normal VHF communications with nearby vessels, you can fire-off one-button Digital Selective Calling (DSC) distress calls that alert all DSC-equipped vessels with your emergency and GPS position.

EPIRB – This stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which alerts Coast Guard and local Search & Rescue agencies of your emergency and – if equipped – GPS position using satellites and earth stations. Units like the Cat II ACR Global Fix Pro ($429.95 through TheGPSStore.com) can be carried in a ditch bag and manually deployed. Others like the Cat I ACR 2846 Global Fix iPro ($699.95) are often mounted on the vessel so they will float free and activate if a vessel sinks or capsizes. Their ability to self-activate in catastrophic events is an important first line of defense and has helped speed rescue to thousands of boaters worldwide.

Personal Locator Beacon – PLBs like the ACR ResQLink ($254.95 through TheGPSStore.com) are like EPIRBs for passengers. They broadcast a 406MHz satellite distress signal to the Coast Guard and separate homing signal to local Search & Rescue agencies. Several PLBs can fit inside a ditch bag, and they are designed to clip onto life jackets. Boaters often get separated when they go into the water; having a PLB for everyone aboard can be the difference between life and death in an emergency. When boating far offshore, crossing dangerous bars or encountering heavy weather, it’s a good idea to have all passengers wearing their PLBs.

Emergency Lights – You can’t be rescued without being seen first. Boating emergencies often occur at night, during bad weather and/or in rough seas. All these things contribute to poor visibility and can hamper rescue efforts at a time when minutes matter. There are many affordable lights designed specifically for this purpose; we recommend the ACR Firefly Waterbug Strobe Light ($69.95 through TheGPSStore.com). This product attaches to life vests and activates automatically in the water. The bright strobe makes boaters visible in the water, even under the worst conditions. There should be one of these for each passenger in every ditch bag.

Handheld GPS – GPS chartplotters are practically standard equipment on most boats today, however, it could easily be inoperable due to power loss, or inaccessible on a vessel filling with water. This is where a handheld like the waterproof, floating Garmin GPS 72H ($127.95 through TheGPSStore.com) can literally save the day. It may well be that rescue will come from nearby vessels, and being able to pinpoint and report your position will be critical. Having a handheld GPS in your ditch bag also provides a ready backup in the event of non-emergency navigation system failures (if, for example, you just need to save a fishing trip rather than save your life).

Satellite Messenger/Tracker – About the size of a smart phone, the waterproof Spot 2 Satellite Messenger and Personal Tracker ($99.95 through TheGPSStore.com) is designed to provide peace of mind to boaters and their loved ones. With the push of a button, users can notify family, friends or International Rescue Centers of their situation or just report in to contacts worldwide that they’re OK. A Help Mode is provided for non-life-threatening emergencies (think broken down or out of gas). You can also set it up for your contacts to track your location and voyage progress using Google Maps.

Satellite Phone – A big part of peace of mind on the water is just knowing you can keep in touch with friends and family. Since many voyages take people out of cell range, technology like a Globalstar GSP 1700 Satellite Phone ($499.95 through TheGPSStore.com) can help boaters and loved ones stay connected. Handheld and portable, this system provides even the smallest boat with reliable communications at sea. Another variation of satellite technology is the Delorme InReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator ($299.95 through TheGPSStore.com). This compact device lets you send and receive text messages and emails outside of cell range, while a built-in GPS can be used to send your location to emergency response centers. Like a satellite phone, it has many useful applications outside of boating emergencies.

Life Raft – While this may not be “electronics,” a life raft like the Viking RescYou Coastal ($1,795 through TheGPSStore.com) may be the ultimate life saving gift. Getting out of the water is key to survival, particularly in places where rescue will take hours. This sturdy six-man raft is designed for coastal cruising and sport fishing, where rescue can be expected within 24 hours. It easily fits in a valise or deck/rail-mounted fiberglass container, yet offers advanced features including an auto-inflating canopy, automatic strobe and interior lights, stabilizing ballast bags and coastal emergency pack.

“Buying safety gear for a boater or fisherman in your life is a great way to show you care, and that you want them to come home safe from every trip,” said Heffernan. “It also makes for a great Holiday gift-giving theme. Buy a ditch bag and invite other family members to give items to help fill it up. There are ideas that cover every budget – these are just a few examples. Small, inexpensive items like signal mirrors, safety whistles and visual distress signals make great stocking stuffers,” he added.

To learn more about giving the gift of safety – and love – for the Holidays, call The GPS Store customer service at (800) 477-2611 or visit their website at www.TheGPSStore.com.

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Sea Tow Offers Hurricane Season Tips for Boaters

by on May.30, 2013, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

SOUTHOLD, N.Y., – The official forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, issued on May 23, called for “an active or extremely active season” this year. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins on June 1, NOAA predicted 70 percent likelihood of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7-11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3-6 major Category 3-5 hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher). This is well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

Hurricane Sandy, which devastated areas of the Northeast last October, causing an estimated $650 million in damage to recreational boats, demonstrated that even boaters in regions that infrequently experience hurricanes should be prepared for hurricane season. The direction, size and severity of storms can change quickly. Last-minute preparations often are difficult to make and limited in their scope. So it pays to plan ahead. Now is the time for boaters to start taking steps to protect their vessels from what could be a very busy summer storm season along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Sea Tow Services International, Inc. (www.seatow.com), the nation’s leading marine assistance service provider, offers the following 15 tips from its experienced Coast Guard-licensed Captains for how boaters can prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

Be sure your boat is insured. A boat that is damaged by a hurricane can wind up costing far more to fix than an insurance policy costs annually.

Review your marine insurance policy, especially its hurricane season provisions. Boat owners whose insurance requires them to relocate their vessels out of a hurricane zone should do so by the date specified in their policy.

Make a Storm Plan. Most insurance providers require a formal written plan detailing where and how your boat must be secured during a major storm. Designate a responsible person to execute the plan if you will be out of town.

Check with your marina, storage facility or the owner of the private dock where your boat is moored to be sure the vessel can remain there during a hurricane. If it can stay, know the procedure for securing not only your boat, but those docked around it as well. A boat that breaks loose in a hurricane can wreak havoc on neighboring vessels.

Pick a haul-out provider. Owners who must move their boats in the event of a storm should decide where to have it hauled before hurricane season begins. Don’t wait until a storm is imminent. Check with your local Sea Tow operator to see what pre-storm haul-out services are offered.

Monitor local and national weather services including NOAA Weather Radio and the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center at www.nhc.noaa.gov.

Make an inventory, preferably by video, of all valuable fixed items such as marine electronics onboard your boat.

Store all the boat’s important documents, including your marine insurance policy, in a secure place off the vessel.

When a major storm is forecast for your area:

Remove all detachable items from your boat, such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios, electronics and antennas. Lash down everything that you cannot remove, including booms, tillers, wheels, etc.

Deflate your dinghy and store it and its outboard motor off the boat. If it’s a fiberglass dinghy, have it stored in an indoor facility.

Lash your boat down securely if it is on a trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of its tires, and weigh down the frame.

Disconnect your boat’s battery. If it is in a facility with shore power, be sure all power is turned off and all shore power cords are stowed securely.

Center your boat in its slip if it is docked in a marina or in a private berth. Double-up all dock lines and make sure they are of sufficient length to compensate for excessive high water.

Anchored boats should put out enough scope. Inspect all anchor rodes and chain and use only good or new gear. Set extra anchors as necessary.

Do not stay with your boat or try to ride out a storm on board. No matter how valuable your vessel is to you-both financially and sentimentally-it’s not worth your life.

About Sea Tow
Now celebrating its 30th anniversary year, Sea Tow Services International Inc. is the nation’s leading on-water assistance provider. Established in 1983 by Founder & CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow now serves members in more than 100 locations throughout the United States, Europe, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. For a full list of membership benefits, how to become a Sea Tow member, or to inquire about becoming a Sea Tow franchise owner, please visit seatow.com.

In addition to providing peace of mind on the water 24/7 to Sea Tow members and other boaters, Sea Tow also offers innovative, free boating safety and information services to the public, including the Sea Tow App for smartphones, Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check Service, and the nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Station program. For more information, visit www.seatow.com and www.boatingsafety.com.

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Last Ditch Effort–Advice on Stocking a Boating Ditch Bag

by on Aug.31, 2012, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

From my friend Frank Sargeant at The Fishing Wire:

Most experienced boaters have heard the stories of boating disasters – vessels capsizing, sinking suddenly or catching fire far from help and the reach of other boaters. These misadventures usually share a few things in common – the crews began the day without a care in the world and things – sometimes several things – went wrong quickly. And at that moment when you realize this really is happening to you, there is no amount you wouldn’t pay for the proper safety gear – particularly if you don’t have it.

“Safety gear – particularly modern rescue electronics – can literally make the difference between life and death,” said Scott Heffernan, Sales Manager for The GPS Store, Inc. “There are just as many stories with happy endings, where families were saved because they had planned for that worse case scenario by preparing a Ditch Bag with items to help them be found by rescuers quickly. If you sail, cruise or fish in the ocean, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to invest in your safety,” added Heffernan.

What is a Ditch Bag? Bags like the ACR RapidDitch Express are designed to keep safety electronics and survival gear organized and ready for immediate abandon ship situations. They are meant to “grab and go” when you have only seconds to get in the water or life raft. This floating bag and its contents then become your lifeline. If you ever do find yourself in this situation, here are some of the things you’ll be glad you have packed inside:

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon: EPIRBs like the ACR Global Fix Pro can be affixed on the vessel or carried in a ditch bag to notify Coast Guard and local Search and Rescue teams and provide your GPS position over two separate frequencies (406MHz and 121.5MHz, respectively). Some EPIRBS are meant to be manually deployed, while others activate automatically if the vessel sinks. These are required equipment on many commercial and passenger vessels – for good reason.

Personal Locator Beacon: PLBs like the new ACR ResQLink are small but powerful rescue aids. Much like an EPIRB, it broadcasts a 406MHz satellite distress signal to the Coast Guard and a separate homing signal for local Search and Rescue authorities to pinpoint your position. The ResQLink is small enough to attach to a flotation vest, yet it boasts an accurate 66-channel internal GPS for precise positioning. Prepared boaters should have an EPIRB for the vessel and a PLB for each person aboard – as individual crew may end up miles apart in an emergency.

Emergency Handheld VHF: Standard Horizon’s HX851 handheld was designed for use in ditch bags, with a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) distress button and built-in GPS that alerts all DSC-equipped vessels in range with your position. This is vital, as nearby boats are your best shot at quick rescue. A full functioning waterproof VHF, the HX851 lets you talk with rescuers and other vessels. It also glows in the dark, includes a built-in strobe light that automatically activates when the radio gets wet, and it floats.

Light Yourself Up. Being rescued takes on a whole new sense of urgency in the dark. You must be seen to be found, regardless of the electronic aids you have at your disposal. A stocked ditch bag should contain plenty of emergency strobe lights, like ACR’s RapidFire vest strobe. Designed to attach to each crewmember’s life jacket and activate with a pull-pin, this tiny light puts out a bright flash and operates for eight continuous hours – making a big difference in your chances for survival.

This is just some of the equipment that goes into a well-stocked ditch bag. Whistles and signal mirrors also help you get seen and heard by nearby boats and rescuers. Other items like water packs, flashlights, duct tape, glow sticks, protein bars and sunglasses can add to your comfort and safety. For more information on ditch bags and safety equipment, contact The GPS Store, Inc. at (800) 477-2611 or visit www.TheGPSStore.com.

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From BoatUS Foundation: Five Fall Boating Safety Tips

by on Sep.28, 2011, under FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

What You Need to Know With the Changing of the Season

ANNAPOLIS, Md., September 28, 2011 – As the days slide farther into fall, recreational boaters face a unique set of safety issues. Warm days collide with deceptively cold waters, greatly increasing the risk of hypothermia even on a “T-shirt” day. Weather can change quickly. And, if you run into trouble, the summer crowds have gone (cue the chirping crickets) leaving few potential rescuers close by. The non-profit BoatUS Foundation has five tips that will help boaters, anglers and sailors understand these unique safety issues and ensure everyone gets home safely.

Dress for the water, not the weather: Indian summers can bring T-shirt days and downright balmy temperatures – but don’t be lured into this false sense of summer. The sun may be shining, but water temperatures are cooler. Always bring extra layers and rain gear this time of year. Fast moving storms can bring sudden temperature drops, and water temperatures are now getting closer to the zone where a simple fall overboard could be a big problem.

Tell a friend: A floatplan could be as simple as letting a family member know where you are going and what time you expect to return, or a more detailed written plan for longer trips, easily left on a windshield, given to a friend, or dropped off at the Harbormaster office. BoatUS has a free floatplan available at www.BoatUS.com/floatplan. One piece of floatplan etiquette: always check back “in” upon your return.

Always check the weather: “You could be well prepared, however, the one thing that’s out of your hands is the weather,” says BoatUS Foundation President Chris Edmonston. The good news is that with today’s technology, it’s easy to keep an eye on it. For a look at weather delivery options ranging from VHF DSC radio to smartphones, go to www.BoatUS.com/foundation/Findings/49.

Always check the boat: Capt. Rich Lendarson of TowBoatUS St. Joe Michigan reports, “The majority of small craft that I see in the fall wouldn’t have sunk if owners had checked to see they had a working bilge pump” (For a look at bilge pump maintenance, go to BoatUS.com/boattech/casey/14.htm). Also do a once-over inspection of the engine, communications and safety gear to ensure all are in good shape and ready to go.

Leave the drinks for home: Beer, wine or distilled spirits all do the same thing – they quickly drain your body of heat bringing on hypothermia’s deadly effects much sooner when compared to warmer months. Help yourself by avoiding alcohol while you’re out on the water.
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About BoatUS:

BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money-saving services, including on-the-water towing assistance provided by the largest network of on-the-water towing ports in North America. The affiliated 501(c)(3) nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, funded largely by BoatUS members, is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. For BoatUS membership information visit www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.

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