There are literally thousands upon thousands of do’s and dont's when it comes to running a safe boat. You can be the most proactive captain in the world, spending thousands of hours studying every little thing there is to know about ALL THINGS NAUTICAL, but all of this knowledge is USELESS if something happens to YOU while on the water.
Your crew’s confidence in you might be the very thing that endangers their lives. Spending just a few minutes training your “crew” will not only keep everyone safer, it’s actually pretty fun. Your friends and family will enjoy themselves more and they will feel like part of a team.
I taught my sons a short speech that they give to their friends before casting off; “Ok guys, we are casting off. We are gonna have a blast. The life jackets are here, the first aid kit is here, the fire extinguisher is here, the throwable life ring is here. Please keep your personal belongings stowed up and off of the deck."
We monitor channel 16 on the VHF. (Give directions on how to make a distress call, they are found on the Coast Guard website). He points out exactly where our numbers are on the chart plotter, (lat and long), and where we are departing from, explaining how the boat icon and “bread crumb trail works”. He gives short directions on how to start the boat, and where the battery switches are. He ends the speech with; “We are gonna have an awesome trip, stay alert, and look out for each other!" It’s important to keep the speech short and to the most important points.
While under way take the time to teach your crew all of the other “little” things.
• How to start and stop the engine.
• How to put the boat in gear.
• How the kill switch works.
• How to set and weigh the anchor.
• Where the bow, stern, port and starboard sides are.
If swimming, teach how to pair up with a buddy, how to check the depth and currents before jumping in. Always enter the water with a floatation device even if you are an Olympic swimmer! Encourage your crew to ask questions. Encourage them to help “look out” while under way and not to be afraid to point out other boaters. It’s ok for a passenger to point out another boat that is “over taking” you. The more eyes the better. Let them know that you appreciate it. There is no place for an over-inflated ego on a boat!
Encourage others to take a boaters safety course, share “wheel time” with those eligible. It may not be legal for the younger crew to drive the boat, but you can still show them how in case of an emergency. What if you have a heart attack? Does your 10 year old know what to do? Knowledge is power. Share the power.
On longer fishing trips leave a simple “float-plan” with someone on land. Tell them where you will launch from, where you plan to fish and when you plan to return. Agree on a time to check in by. It’s easy to do and can save your LIFE!
There are so many things that can harm you on the water, this simple list covers some of the basics, but it DOES NOT COVER EVERYTHING! You can never stop learning. There is some great info available online. Check it out. Take notes and share the knowledge!
Stay safe out there and Leave a few fish for me!