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Safety First – Top’s Tips



LIghtningI learned long ago from an old successful salesman that the first thing one had to do in a prospective sales presentation was to get the customers undivided attention. So, in an effort to get your undivided attention, I will cite some of the very grim boating fatality statistics from the Florida Marine Police.

For instance, the current 2010 statistics show that most boating fatalities to date are from drowning. The cause of those drowning … nearly 90% were not wearing life jackets when they entered the water. Following are just two examples:

  1. On May 22 a boater fell overboard from a 32 foot contender and drowned.
  2. On May 23 a 14 foot Jon boat was swamped on Eagle Lake with 4 on board.  A 23 year old drowned while attempting to swim to shore.

Many have advised me that they carry life jackets on board their vessel with the idea of putting them on when an emergency arises. Detailed case studies show that boat accidents and capsizing happen so fast that there is usually no time to don a life jacket. Remember the Scout motto: Be prepared. So, wear your life jacket. If not for you, think of your family with you out of the picture.

Now, back to the main subject of this month:  Lightning.  You will see the lightning before you hear the thunder because sound travels much slower than light. You can determine the distance of the storm by counting one thousand one to five after you see the lightning.  Each five counts tell you that the lightning is about one mile away. If your count shows that the storm is less that 10 miles, you should head for safety since data shows that lightning can strike out 10 miles in front of a storm where the sky may even be clear. The comment that if you can hear the thunder, head inside or for shelter is so true.

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High Waves & Wakes

During the past year there have been many stories in the media about boaters being tossed into the water when encountering large wakes and high waves. As the weather warms and we enter the peak boating season, I thought it appropriate to remind everyone of the ever present dangers when encountering a high wave or crossing another boat’s wake.

Crossing the large wakes of other boats is inevitable. Large vessels often create a dangerous rolling wake, and they can create disturbances in the water for thousands of feet behind them.  A wake is essentially a wave. Always alert your passengers when you see a wake coming. An unexpected wake can toss people around in the cockpit or cabin , and even overboard. Severe injuries or even death could result from from being tossed about by an unexpected wake. Always minimize the effect of large wakes by reducing speed and turning into the

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Top’s new boat and car!

Towing Your Boat

Top’s new boat and car!Now, with improving weather and tournaments on the schedule, Club members will be towing their boats more to get in on the action. In order to have a safe, successful boating/fishing trip, if you are one of the 95% of recreational boaters who tow their boats, you must first tow your boat to the nearest boat ramp for launching. Towing a boat has its good and bad points, and the potential problems in towing are many. I would like to remind everyone of a few things to consider before towing your boat.

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Float Plan


In case you may not have seen the notice in the newspaper, I want to call everyone’s attention to a change in the boating-safety education requirements in Florida effective January 1, 2010. It states that boat operators who were born on or after January 1, 1988, are now required to pass an approved boating-safety course and have a photo identification and a boating-safety card in their possession on the water in order to operate any boat with a 10-horsepower motor or larger. So, if you plan to fish any of the future tournaments, or have a person within that age group operate your boat, you are responsible to make sure the operator has met the necessary legal requirements. You might say, it is like needing a driver’s license to operate a car.

To help satisfy this new requirement by the state of Florida, the Coast Guard Auxiliary will be offering a boating-safety program on Mondays from 6:45 pm to 9:15 pm at the Stellar Building, 2900 Hartley Road, in Mandarin. For additional information and cost of the program, contact Bob at 904-721-1346.
The club tournament schedule for this year will begin with the River Tournament March 27.  Since all of our future tournaments will be offshore, we need to give a lot of thought to making sure our boat and equipment will perform satisfactorily and safely before heading out to our favorite spot offshore. We also need to have a plan to make sure that someone knows where to look for us, and what will happen, if our equipment fails us while offshore .

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Boat Handling In Rough Seas

With the advent of cooler weather and fronts moving through our area, I think it is time to remind everyone of the need to take proper precautions when boating in heavy weather and rough seas. You may recall the incident, offshore Mayport, where a 21 foot Hydra Sport capsized in rough seas.

As cold weather fronts begin moving through our area over the next couple of months, we can expect to encounter more severe weather and rougher seas when we head out to our favorite fishing spot. Also, I would like to remind everyone that the Captain of a vessel is responsible for the safety of his/her vessel and the crew.

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As we move into January and the colder months, we normally think more about staying warm when fishing in the cold, windy weather. Also, since the Captain of a vessel is responsible for the safety of his/her vessel and the crew, all Captains should be giving some thought to the prevention of hypothermia. Hypothermia can pose a problem for boaters anytime of the year, but should be of greater concern to all Captains as we approach colder weather.

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. As a Captain, have you ever thought about what a life jacket has in common with a blanket relative to hypothermia and safety in boating? Both can save your life when you are facing a major killer in aquatic mishaps such as hypothermia. As a result, you should carry both of these items on your boat. A life jacket is a federal and state requirement, but a blanket is not. However, all boaters should carry a blanker on board.

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Polk County Boating Fatality

On 12/18/2009 at approximately 7:30 p.m., a Winter Haven couple were fishing on the east side of Lake Howard when their 12 foot vessel capsized. The husband last saw his…

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Boating Safety Classes

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Jacksonville Flotilla 14-8

One Saturday could save your life!  Keep your family safe on the water!  Maximize your knowledge and your family’s safety. Cost is only $25. A second family member may attend for $5 if you can share a book.

Benefits of this program:
Meets Florida legal requirements for boater education.
All graduates will receive the Florida Education I.D. card.
Most insurance companies offer discounts to graduates.
Meet your fellow boaters.
Have more fun on the water and have it safely.

Below is the list of classes and contacts for the rest of 2012. 

June 16  Saturday  7:30 – 5:00  Captains Club, 13363 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL. 32246
Mike 904-502-9154

June 16  Saturday  8:00 – 5:00  910 Roland Ave, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Joel  414-745-4555

June 23  Saturday  7:30 – 5:00  Stellar Bldg. 2900 Hartley Road, Jacksonville, FL.32257
Bob 904-721-1346

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Wear Your Life Jacket

This month we start our fishing season and the tournaments for the club Captain of the Year. This presents an excellent opportunity to remind the Club membership of the fact that the successful fishing/ boating trip is the one that begins and ends safely.Inflatable_LJ

4_pocket_LJPreparation can save your life! One way to ensure a safe outing on the water is to wear your life jacket. Although not required by law, except for children 13 years of age and younger, boaters should wear a life jacket especially when the boat is underway. Historical data shows that many excellent swimmers have drowned when thrown from a moving boat without wearing a flotation device of some type. Recently we had a near tragic accident when a small boat, with 3 fishermen, capsized near the jetties. Since the fishermen were not wearing life jackets, only the quick action of some nearby fishermen prevented a tragedy.

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