By Mike and Christine DuBois
Staying safe on the lake requires knowledge, equipment and a good set of daily habits. Let’s start with the equipment required by law.
The RCMP patrol Lake Windermere. When you are pulled over, you must produce the following items: a CCA lifejacket that fits every person on board, bailing bucket, flashlight, whistle, and a tow rope (your waterski rope satisfies this requirement). Many suppliers sell an affordable and convenient kit that contains these items. Also, don’t forget your Pleasure Craft Operators License. We want to say a huge thanks to the RCMP for their presence on the lake. It is great to have them out there to keep you safe and hopefully reduce bad behaviour.
In addition to these requirements, there are additional items every boat should have: fire extinguisher, anchor, knife and goggles. Hopefully, you never need the first item but the latter three items frequently get used when the rope is run over and wrapped around the prop. We have all done it at least once (including this season by one of the authors of this article). It almost always happens when it is windy and the boat gets blown over the rope without the driver realizing it. Step one is to drop the anchor to stop the boat from drifting into shore, then put on the goggles and get to work removing the rope with the knife. It is a challenging task but be patient and you will succeed. The anchor should also be used whenever your boat breaks down, unless of course you are lucky enough to be drifting back to where you started from.
Other items that are frequently used are long booster cables, (or a booster pack) and a paddle. Boat batteries seem to go dead frequently. It is common to leave accessory items on overnight or while floating. When putting the boat to bed for the night, double check that all switches are off. Remember, if your battery is dead, the bilge pump does not work and your boat could fill with water. A paddle with a hook on the end to grab the dock with is a very valuable yet underused piece of equipment. Less than perfect parking often leaves your dock just out of reach. Wind is another culprit that pushes your boat into that awkward spot in the marina when you can’t quite get pointed in the right direction. Use the paddle and hook to pivot the boat into the right direction.
Boating story of the week
Through a lifetime working in the marina business, we have seen it all. The identity of the people in these weekly stories will be kept anonymous to protect embarrassment. Recently we encountered three hilarious boating mishaps. It was a tough decision but here is the winning boating story. Jim (not his real name) loaded up the family and went to Kinsman Bay for an afternoon of floating and lounging. He threw out his anchor (good move) and everyone had a great time. Several hours later when it was time to head home, everyone loaded up and Jim drove back, complaining that the boat felt “sluggish.” When he arrived he discovered he had forgot to pull up the anchor! Of course the anchor was long gone and all that remained was a shredded rope dangling from the bow and a good story. We donated a new anchor to Jim because this story is so fantastic. On your next boating adventure, do a quick safety check before departing and don’t be a Jim!