3 ESSENTIAL PIECES OF BOATING SAFETY EQUIPMENT
At 888-Boat-Law we repeatedly have seen that there are three essential pieces of boating safety equipment which are not always considered when preparing for a day of boating. We are not talking the usual personal flotation devices—life vests–which everyone understands is a fundamental piece of safety equipment. We are talking about the under-appreciated ones which you should have when you go out on the vessel. The first is always have a VHF radio. The reason you need this is that your cell phone will not have reception or the ability to contact anyone past a certain point when you are offshore. A VHF radio can reach beyond the range of a cell phone. A VHF radio is absolutely mandatory if you are going offshore, and really even if you are in inshore waters. You don’t want to find out in an emergency that your cell phone doesn’t have coverage.
The second piece of safety equipment which many do not think of as safety equipment is: an anchor. An anchor holds your vessel in place, including most importantly in the times of engine trouble. This is very important because otherwise emergency services will have to look for your vessel based upon projected drift patterns. On a recent case we signed, the crew was luckily found clinging to their overturned vessel 11 miles from where they were expected to be found. They were very lucky to be rescued. Even luckier that they were rescued before that vessel was completely lost. Boaters should make sure they have a good anchor for the area they are traveling and with sufficient scope of rope.
The third piece of “safety equipment” is not equipment in the traditional sense, it is a “float plan”. It is of utmost importance to leave a float plan with someone before you head out into the Gulf or Tampa Bay. This tells someone: 1. Where you are going. 2. Your expected time of return. In the case we recently signed up, the government agencies only heard that there was a MayDay! The agencies had no idea from what area the MayDay call originated. The clients were very fortunate to be rescued before the vessel sank—who were found drifting11 miles from the official search area.
Safety equipment is more than life jackets and flares. A good VHF radio, an anchor, and float plan is very important for your boating day.
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