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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Tag: boating safety

SeaTow Urges July 4 Boating Safety

by on Jul.01, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

Southold, NY – – Over the long July 4th weekend, countless coastal and lakeside towns across the country mount fireworks displays, many of which will launch from the water. These exciting events draw hundreds of boaters, who anchor out or raft up in order to have “ring-side seats” for the show. Boating at night and in the smoke caused by the fireworks can prove challenging, however, the non-profit Sea Tow Foundation offers the following six safety tips for boaters watching a July 4th fireworks display from the water:

1. Wear you life jacket! Make sure everyone onboard the boat is wearing either a traditional life jacket that fits properly, or an inflatable PFD. Navigating at night in smoky conditions can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or in fog.

2. Designate a Sober Skipper to stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the fireworks display is over.

3. Watch your weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or by the helm, or look up the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.

4. Things look different at night. Remember that in the dark, visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may be invisible. Chart your route to your fireworks-viewing spot in advance, and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it, if necessary.

5. Listen Up! Follow the directions issued to boaters by U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary as to where you may safely anchor to view the fireworks away from sparks and ash.

Relax and enjoy the show. Don’t be in a rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the fireworks display is over.

About Sea Tow
Sea Tow Services International Inc. is the nation’s leading on-water assistance provider for boaters. Established in 1983 by Founder & CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow serves members inland to the coast 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. Sea Tow also offers free boating safety information 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 seatow.com and boatingsafety.com.

About the Sea Tow Foundation
In 2007, Sea Tow Founder and CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer created the Sea Tow Foundation – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – to promote safe boating practices. The Foundation’s goal is to reduce accidents, fatalities and property damage related to recreational boating. For more information, please visit boatingsafety.com. – See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/322574#sthash.57Pd6RrQ.dpuf

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a WORD about WEATHER while on the WATER!

by on Aug.20, 2012, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS

Don’t get me wrong, but Florida can have some nasty weather.  It can be bone-chilling cold in the winter months.  And it can be swelteringly (if that’s a word?) hot in summer.  However, summertime is the time of year that tropical depressions–and even tropical fronts–can bring lightning down on the heads of unwary and unsuspecting boaters and fishermen.

My “Rule Number One” is to ALWAYS take a look at the weather map and to understand the trends that lead up to bad weather.  In summer, if it rains and storms one day and there’s no official Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm, or Hurricane in the news or on the big maps, it likely will rain and storm for day–at generally the same time each day.  A look at the Intellicast website for your specific area (or for the area to which you’re heading) is a good idea.  If it looks like this, stay at the dock.

A typical summertime afternoon storm crosses Florida’s Big Bend!

Another good “Rule” is to look in the general direction you’re boating, and if the sky’s black, and it’s not nighttime, change your course.  If you have radar, you can sometimes find a hole between squalls, but don’t be suckered into the maw of a storm thinking you can outrun it.  It’s sometimes better to anchor up or seek shelter ashore rather than run from a storm.  Summer storms are often small in diameter, and will pass quickly.  If you have a smartphone like Apple’s iPhone, a good radar “app” is Weather Bug.  It gives you good radar information, and is free.  All you need is cell phone service, which is available at your APP store.

You’ll likely have a few minutes notice before a big storm like this one hits. Take cover, if possible, under a dock or bridge. Or anchor up and get all your geat and crew down.

And speaking of anchoring up and waiting-out a big storm, be sure to take all your rods and antennas down.  You don’t need any lightning rods on your boat.  And if the lightning gets close, have your crew lay down in the boat, away from any metal parts.  And for sure, don’t let anyone fish!

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Even in Florida, Cold Weather Boating Requires Extra Caution and Preparation

by on Jan.17, 2012, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

While the majority of boaters in colder parts of the country have winterized their boats or put them into storage until spring, many still rely on their vessels for hunting, fishing or necessary transportation in cold weather, substantially increasing their risk of a deadly accident. Extra caution and preparation should be taken before heading out on the water in winter.

The U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary says the importance of wearing a life jacket becomes even more critical when the danger for hypothermia is added to other concerns.  Sudden immersion in cold water can have severe physiological consequences, such as cardiac arrest, fast loss of body heat (the body loses heat 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air) and involuntary inhalation of water (gasping) that results in drowning.  Most Coast Guard-approved life jackets when worn are designed to keep the user’s head above water while awaiting rescue.

In addition to wearing a life jacket, wearing the right clothing also can contribute to a more enjoyable and safer cold weather boating experience.  Consider layering clothing, including a wet suit or dry suit, to help ward off the effects of hypothermia.

Following are some additional tips for safe winter boating:

–Assess the risks – envision what can go wrong and be fully equipped and prepared.

–Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location, and who to call if you fail to return as scheduled.

–Carry a VHF radio or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), signal flares and other means to draw attention to your location.

–Be aware of and prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and incapacitating effects of cold water – dress to get wet and carry a change of clothing in a waterproof container.

–Maintain situational awareness on the water – be aware of activity around your vessel and potential for fast-changing weather conditions.

–Boat safe and sober – save the alcohol for when you’ve safely returned.

–Be sure your vessel is in good operating condition and has the necessary safety equipment on board before you leave the dock.

–Refresh your seamanship skills…take a boating safety course offered by your local Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla.

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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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