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Safe at Sea: Boating quiz — would you pass or fail?
January 7, 2020

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For many of us returning from a summer spent up north, it might be the beginning of a new boating season. Upon our arrival, we look forward to returning our boat to the water. Let's hope we were thorough in our review of the process and all the steps for reliable mechanical and safe performance before the splash. Don't forget to check the drain plug!

It's also a good time to reflect on our knowledge of safe boating practices. Perhaps a brief six-point test will encourage you to attend the America's Boating Course offered by America's Boating Club or to consider joining the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of the organization.

Which of the following is required of boats under 40 feet on federal waterways?

- VHF radio.

- Whistle.

- Paddle or oar.

- First aid kit.

According to the Navigation Rules, which is true?

- A boat under power is always a stand on boat.

- A personal watercraft is always a give-way boat.

- An overtaking boat always gives way to the boat being overtaken.

- A boat under sail is always a stand-on boat.

Which of the following must follow Navigation Rules for a powerboat?

- Any sailboat equipped with an engine.

- All sailboats under sail along.

- A sailboat with sails up but no engine.

- A sailboat with its engine engaged.

A float plan should contain what information?

- A date and time to contact the authorities.

- A national weather service storm advisory signal listing.

- Coast Guard emergency radio frequencies.

- A pre-departure check list.

Which of the following will increase the effects of alcohol and drugs?

- Food.

- Vibrations.

- Spray.

- Temperature.

What is the USCG-approved meaning of "serviceable condition" for life jackets?

- The ability to turn a person immersed in water face up.

- Proper size and fit.

- Straps and zippers work.

- Must be within easy reach.

Well, let's see how you and the first mate did on the questions.

- While always smart and advisable to have on board a first aid kit and VHF radio, they are not required. A device to make noise that can be heard by nearby boaters is required, so the whistle is called for.

- When overtaking another boat, the rules are clear. The overtaking boat must give way to the boat it is passing. Remember, boaters are responsible for results of their wake and a horn signal - one blast for overtaking a vessel on its starboard side or two for passing on its port side - is advised.

- A sailboat becomes a power boat when its engine is running and engaged.

- The float plan is to alert others as to your expected return and perhaps details of where you intend to go. If you are late in your return, this sharing of information with family, friends or marina personnel will provide valuable information in the event of an unexpected calamity such as a dead battery or engine that will not operate.

- Research has shown the variety of stresses boating on the water include sun, noise, vibrations and motion all contribute to a type of fatigue called "boaters' hypnosis," which in combination with alcohol, can dramatically increase the effects of intoxication of both operators and passengers. Play it safe and sober!

- Of course, it is important that life jackets be the right size for the intended wearer and that they be readily accessible if not being worn while underway. However, an emergency is not time to discover a life jacket has a fouled zipper, torn strap or will no longer float.

For those interested, the America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva will offer the two-session America's Boating Course at the Sanibel Public Library on: Jan. 28 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and March 12 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and March 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bob Eidsvold is a member of America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and the courses it offers, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.

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