UA-8412995-1 The Southport Globe: Fairfield County: Keep Your Boating Safe and Green

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fairfield County: Keep Your Boating Safe and Green

Memorial Day is just around the corner, marking the season when a lot of us start thinking about boats. Whether you own or rent a kayak or an ocean cruiser, tour our beautiful rivers and lakes or head out to Long Island Sound, boating makes a great family weekend. Fishing, too.
But just because you’re breathing fresh maritime air doesn’t make you automatically “green.” The waters need protection every bit as much as the land. You and your kids need protection, too. At the start of every season, anyone in a maritime frame of mind should run down the safety and environmental protection rules.
For people using kayaks and canoes, personal safety starts with being comfortable in the water in case you fall overboard or capsize. Go out with a friend and tip the boat. You’ll learn how to get comfortable floating next to it, emptying the water from it, and getting back in. You will probably never need these skills if you stay on flat waters around here but, just like fire drills, it is good practice. If you’re swimming from sailboats or small motorized craft, be sure you’re capable of climbing back on board.
If you are new to the sport or stepping up in skill level, go with someone more experienced to be sure you understand how to operate the boat. Take a route that suits your abilities. Better to take a short trip and build up your stamina than be scared away by a bad experience. If you’re renting a boat, the outfitter will usually give you a tour route. Stick to it, or tell the outfitter where else you’re going.
On any boat, you need a life jacket for every person aboard, and the jacket should fit. If you are in canoes or kayaks, at least one person in the group should have a pump or bailer, sponge, an extra paddle, a whistle or other loud sound-making device, and a tow line.

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