Sea Tow Services International reported a steady flow of assistance calls during the four-day Independence Day weekend. The top requests were for tows, jump-starts, fuel deliveries and ungroundings.
“It’s a fact, we were incredibly busy over the July Fourth holiday weekend,” Sea Tow CEO Capt. Joseph Frohnhoefer III said in a statement. “Our Sea Tow Captains were on the water 24/7 to be able to help our members and other boaters.”
Sea Tow says there are lessons to be learned from the cases handled over the weekend:
- Go slow when navigating unfamiliar waters to avoid running aground. Stop and get your bearings in unfamiliar waters.
- Review a nautical chart of local waterways prior to heading out on the water to know where channels, buoys and shallow water are located.
- If you have an onboard navigation system, take the time to read the manual so you know how to read and interpret what you are seeing on the screen. Practice by going to an area you know well to see how it is represented in your system.
- Know the waters you are boating in. Channels and sandbars can shift based upon weather and wave action. Knowledge of your local waterways is the best way to prevent running aground.
- Call your local Sea Tow captain for advice on avoiding shallow and shifting channels.
- Don’t take short cuts, stick to the channels.
- Understand how the color of the water can indicate a sandbar or low water ahead.
- Don’t rely on your cell phone; make sure you have a working VHF radio on board and know how to use it.
- Practice the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 rule when it comes to fuel: 1/3 tank of fuel to head out. 1/3 tank of fuel to head back. 1/3 tank as a reserve.
- If using a radio or other device while anchored, monitor battery usage so you don’t end up with a dead battery when you try to start the boat at the end of the day to head home.
- Ensure there is a designated sober skipper who is qualified to operate the boat.
- If you are not used to boating at night, take your time heading home. The waters look different at night and landmarks that you usually use may not be visible. Be sure to have a second person helping you look out for other boaters, debris in the water, channel markers and buoys.