If you have ever walked on the docks where charter boats tie up, you’ll notice that long after the fish are cleaned and the clients have departed, the captain and mate are still scrubbing, cleaning and polishing. Often it’s just the mate. As the main tool of the captain’s trade, the boat should look nice and clean for the next charter. And a clean boat is also a boat with fewer problems.
1. Pre-plot your course
This is really a double tip, because you have to buy the right charts before you can pre-plot your course. Get an up-to-date chart that shows an overview of the entire area as well as detailed charts of the harbors along the way. Spread the charts out at home, and plot your route ahead of time. Pencil in the courses you’ll be steering along with their compass headings. Navigating will be so much easier.
As a boater, you should have the required flares on board, but do you know how and when to use them?
When to use flares
- You want to use your flares when you are in distress and in a location where they can be seen by someone. If you have radioed or called for help, you may be asked to fire a flare to pinpoint your location, so you can be spotted at sea and from the air.
- If searching for you, the U.S. Coast Guard may ask you to set off a flare or an orange smoke flare in the daytime. Lighted flares are effective for short time spans (some for 8–10 seconds, others for 2–3 minutes), so use them efficiently with foreknowledge and practice. Don’t wait until the need arises before preparing for action; it could make the difference between life and death.