Saint James City Boat Club


Boating Safety Reminders

1. Life Jackets Save Lives. Most people who die in boating accidents drown. All vessels must carry one Type I, II, III or V - U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. Everyone should wear their life jacket when boating; especially small boats that could capsize in a wake or large wave. Children under 6 must wear a life jacket at all times while underway on vessels under 26'. On vessels operating 9 miles or more off shore, children under 13 must wear an approved life jacket unless below deck on in an in closed c cabin. 

 2. Are you a new boat owner, new to boating or just want to be a better boater? Take a safety course. If you or anyone in your family is 21 years of age or younger, Florida law requires that you complete an approved boater education course prior to operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard Station Ft. Myers Beach for more information 239 463 5754. In addition, you can call the U.S. Power Squadron at 466-404 and or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at 283-2208 for information on Boating safety courses.  Check with our members as many are well versed in instruction to include maintenance of your vessel and or trailer, area of operation, and practical vessel operation to bridge the classroom on to the water.

3. Watch for divers-down flags displayed from a vessel. They should be displayed from the highest point of the vessel so it is visible in any direction. Boats that travel within 300 feet of a diver down flag must slow to no faster than is necessary to maintain headway and steerage way.

4.  Obey waterway markers. Lee County has a variety of waterway markers. Some mark channels and speed zones, some are informational. It's the Captain's duty to know and obey markers. Learn by using the Lee County Boater's Guide and taking a safe boating course.

5.  Know your safety gear. Before boating, always make sure you have all the proper safety equipment on board:

            - A personal flotation device for each person on board;

            - A working fire extinguisher;

            - Sound producing devices;

            - A visual distress signal;

            - Working navigation lights.

            -  A throwing device with a line attached and other flotation devices.

 6. Keep a sharp lookout. Most boating accidents involve collisions. You should always be aware of what is happening around your boat to avoid accidents. Paying attention and keeping a sharp lookout can save your life.


 7. Operator's responsibilities

  • Make sure the boat is in top condition; Free of fire and tripping hazards and clean bilges.
  • Safety equipment, required by law, is on board, in good condition and you know how to use these devices.
  • File a float plan with a relative or friend.
  • Have a complete knowledge of the operation and handling characteristics of the boat you are about to operate.
  • Know your position at all times and where you are going.
  • Maintain a safe speed at all times to avoid a collision.
  • Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions, and act accordingly.
  • Know and practice the Rules of the Road (navigation rules).
  • Know and obey Federal and State regulations and waterway markers.
  • Maintain a clear, unobstructed view forward and aft at all times. "Scan" the water back and forth; avoid "tunnel" vision. Most boating collisions are cause by inattention.

  8. Carry VHF radio.

     Most recreational vessels under 65.6' (20m in length) do not have to carry a marine radio. Any vessel that carries a marine radio must follow the rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC does not require operators of recreational vessels to carry a radio or to have a license to operate VHF marine radios. Operators must however follow the procedures and courtesies that are required of licensed operators specified in FCC Rules. You may use the name or registration number of your vessel to identify your ship station (radio).

Users of VHF marine radios with digital selective calling will need to obtain a maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) number from the FCC. It is unlawful to use digital selective calling without obtaining this identity. You the option of obtaining this number from the Boat U.S. Website. Vessels that carry a marine radio, voluntary or not must maintain a watch on Channel #16 whenever the radio is operating and not being used to communicate. Such vessels may alternatively maintain a watch on VHF channel 9, the boaters calling channel.

Distress Call Procedures: Have all persons put on life jacke

a) Make sure the radio is on. Select channel 16.

b) Press/hold the transmit buttonClearly say: MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY Also give: Position and / or location; Vessel name; Nature of emergency;Vessel description and number of people on board. Release the transmit button.

c) Wait - if no response Repeat "MAYDAY" Call. 

It is unlawful to intentionally transmit a false distress alert, or to unintentionally transmit a false distress alert without taking steps to cancel that ale

9. Man Overboard Procedures:

It is the Captains responsibility to advise all members of his or her crew on the MOB procedures to be prepared in case this happens. The MOB drill should be practiced frequently so you will be prepared to take immediate and proper action that could save a life. Further more, the skipper is also responsible to have on board the necessary gear for this event. It is a good idea to have extra throwable devices such as Type IV PFDs for immediate deployment called the "cookie crumb" system You also can use seat cushions for this purpose. If you are in choppy waters with white caps you will find it extremely difficult to locate a person in the water.

The procedures are:

  • The first person to witness the MOB should shout as loud as possible "MAN OVERBOARD" . Then point to the MOB and never take your eyes off the MOB so the person at the helm can see where you are pointing and safely turn the boat around.
  • When the MOB is shouted a flotation devise must be thrown in the water immediately; it can be a type IV PFD or a seat cushion. Be prepared to throw multiple flotation devices; especially if the seas are rough with white caps or in darkness. This is extremely important if you do not have a GPS or can not use one. Also, glance at the compass before turning to get the current compass heading to help make a 180 degree turn by adding or subtracting 180 degree from the current compass heading before making a turn. Don't panic if you forget to get the current compass heading, you still have the person pointing and the devises in the water.
  • The person at the helm should immediately push the MOB button if there is a GPS aboard.
  • Once you locate the MOB, approach from down stream very slowly and when in range, throw the throwable devise with the attached retrievable line secured to the boat. Never back the vessel to the MOB. Once the MOB has the line, shut down the engine or make sure it is in neutral.
  • Get the victim back into the boat as soon as possible. The person may be exhausted or injured. If your boat is small pull the person in over the stern. (engine off) to prevent capsizing the boat. It a larger boat tow the person with the line to the swim ladder or platform.
  • If there is any delay in locating or retrieving the person from the water you should issue a "Pan Pan" call on the VHF radio to get help. In all the confusion all persons on board should put on PFDs in case some one else falls overboard during the rescue.:

10. Sound producing devices

  • The navigation rules (Rules of the Road) require sound signals to be made under certain circumstances. Meeting, crossing and overtaking situations described in the Navigation Rules are examples of when sound signals are required. Recreational  vessels are also required to sound signals during periods of reduced visibility. Vessels 39.4 feet/12 meters or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn, and a bell. Any vessel less than 39.4' may carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make and efficient sound signal to signal your intention and to signal your position in periods of reduced visibility. Therefore, any vessel less than 39.4' is required to make an efficient signal to signal your intentions and to signal your position in periods of reduced visibility.



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