Got all the oils changed and a new impeller kit installed. Newly registered in FL, re-upped my boat insurance and am planning on rigging her out and dropping her in the water this Friday.
I have my insurance through BoatUS and they send a monthly magazine that usually has some good stories about boat claims and tips on how not to be the a featured boater (did you know cheap Chinese spigots rust in the fraction of the time a better quality, higher nickel content unit does, neither did the guy who’s spigot rusted out and he arrived at the marina to see his boat four feet under water.)
One good tip for new boaters is that the safety equipment that your dealer outfitted your boat with is generally the least quality, bare minimum to fulfill what the law says they have to in order to get the boat out the door. Such as; the floatation devices. Sure the basic USCG approved will satisfy the officer during the occasional boarding, but is the ‘minimum’ what you want your friends and family to wear if something goes terribly wrong? Flares are another good example. The little yellow plastic box with a flare gun and a three shots that the dealer was so nice to ‘give’ you will provide about 15 seconds total of visible aid. Hmm. 15 seconds. I guess you could wait to use them until you see a boat coming your way.
Of course there is the minimum the law requires and there is the ‘above and beyond’ equipment such as GPS, radar, marine VHF etc. I just bought a Garmin Colorado 400c handheld and I have a hand held VHF, I’ve upgraded my PFD’s and flare kit, I’ve upgraded the single little fire extinguisher that the dealer gave me with two larger ones mounted fore and aft.
The majority of our boating this past year was in the Gulf of Mexico. Following our channel two miles out along a line of keys to an area known as ‘the flats’. The flats is a gathering place for the locals. Upwards of 100 boats around peak summer each weekend day. The water is only about three feet to four feet depending on the tide. It’s one big party and a popular boat for the locals to use are pontoon boats. I’m always amazed when I’m conversing with various people and learn that their boat doesn’t come close to being equipped with even the minimum standards. One thing I’ve learned about boating is that things can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t do long distance boating in our little 18’ bowrider, but I feel confident that my safety equipment is more than adequate for even a short little trip out in the Gulf.