Safe Boating

Use care when you get your boat ready for winter

Johnston Sun Rise ·

Even though there are still some good days of fall fishing, beach bonfires (where legal) and beautiful weather, we need to think ahead in order to ensure a great boating season next year. Careful planning and good practices will keep you and the environment safe as you think about putting the boat up for the winter.

Now, as always, you need to be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning. CO is a very poisonous gas, but odorless and colorless, so it is hard to detect. Carbon dioxide is the stable gas we breathe out, but carbon monoxide actually grabs the urgently needed oxygen that your blood was carrying to your brain etc. What are the symptoms? Watch out for drowsiness, headache, dizziness, weakness, confusion or nausea. Eventually you will pass out. There have been instances of fatalities of people riding in the backseat of a moving station wagon as carbon monoxide was drawn into the car from the exhaust. The same thing can happen on a boat, especially when the cockpit is enclosed on three sides. With the cooler weather it is normal to lower the side curtains. Your boat engine can be as deadly as a car engine. 10 to 12 percent of exhaust is carbon monoxide. Be aware of the symptoms. If you tend to get headaches when you ride in the boat, check it out. Another source of carbon monoxide is your generator exhaust or even a hot water heater. It is possible for your stove to contribute. The culprit could also be the boat next to you. If you have experienced any of the symptoms while on your boat, look for a CO source. You could install CO detectors for very little expense, but remember to remove the batteries before you leave it for the winter.

As you take advantage of the last weeks of boating, get in the habit of checking your weekly Notice to Mariners. You can go to the D1UPV site and see how to request it. It will be emailed to you each week and can come right to your smart phone. You need to be aware of what is going on in the bay. This summer, the Coast Guard Auxiliary was asked to set up a safety barrier for Swim the Bay. One indignant fisherman was furious when they would not let him power through the swimmers. “No one told me about this!” The Local Notice to Mariners had it clearly reported, as well as television news. Keep informed and boat responsibly.

Finally, as you winterize your boat, remember we are all responsible for maintaining clean shores and water. Always use the least toxic product to do the job. If you spill, soak it up with rags instead of hosing the product into the water. Get some of those bilge pillows to absorb any oil from your bilge. A few small precautions can take care of your boat, your family and the environment.