By Lowell Joy, Board Member Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club
The Fort Pierce Sportfishing Club has a high priority for membership as well as public boating safety.
Number 1: When checking with the tow boat companies, we find the number one reason boaters calling for assistance is running out of fuel. The preventive solution for this is fairly obvious and every boater should be preplanning as to the length of time they anticipate being on the water and the amount of fuel they will be using. Obvious as it seems, please make this a high priority on your prep list.
Number 2: The second most common safety concern is water entering the boat hull. It is interesting to note that within three miles of launch ramps there is an inordinate number of boats requiring assistance for taking on water, and in some instances even sinking. Trailer boats or rack stored boats are particularly vulnerable as skippers may inadvertently forget to install the hull plug prior to launch. Although this is another obvious item there are still way too many recurrences. Another safety concern regarding water entering the hull can be traced to through-hulls and hoses that are located below the water line. All hoses and through-hulls should be checked annually at a minimum, and if there are gate valves on any of these fittings, they should be tested frequently to assure they are all in proper working order. These simple preventative maintenance activities assure a safe day on the water.
Number 3: Another area of concern is that many boats carry little or no water in the hull. Therefore, owners do not know whether the automatic bilge float switch or the bilge pump itself are actually working. It is a good safety practice at least twice per year to take a fresh water garden hose and put enough water into the hull to verify the switch and pump are functioning properly and discharging bilge water overboard.
Keeping these few basic items high on your priority list will help keep your time on the water safe, fishable and fun!