Plan Your Day (or Mission) on the Water
Before you left the dock you should have done a few things. Not sure what they are? Even the coxswains of Auxiliary facilities have what they call a GAR checklist to complete that helps them establish risk. Risk is an important word when it applies to the safety of your voyage. You DO NOT want to take on more risk than you can handle and you DO NOT want to expose your guests or crew to risks that can endanger them. The captain or coxswain is after all responsible for the safety of the crew, passengers, and his vessel.
to the float plan as “the worlds only Lifesaving Device on Paper.” You click on the image or the link and visit FloatPlan.org. Download a float Plan and fill it out and give it to someone that cares about you before you leave!
A float plan can save hours of wasted time by your family, friends, and your potential rescuers. Even the Coast Guard Auxiliary facilities have patrol plans and check in to Coast Guard Radio Stations regularly. You should take a cellular telephone so you can check in with friends or relatives and a VHF marine radio to call for help if and when you need help!
Owners of hand-help computing devices and smart phones may obtain applications (apps) that allow them to create and email or share float plans. Creating a float plan is easier than ever before. Search your favorite app store for “float plan.”
The Weather, Tides, and Currents
It is obviously helpful to know what the weather is and what the weather will be! There are a number of places on the Internet to get this information. This page does not present the only sources of best weather information. This is a sampling to get you think seriously about boating safely and responsibly on the Chesapeake bay. Google can be used to get a general idea of the weather from day to day:
[gweather city="Solomons" country="US" temp="F" credit="0"]
There are are also various NOAA weather Internet sites to check like these. Explore each one:
- NOAA Weather at Thomas Point Light
- NOAA Weather at Cambridge, Maryland
- NOAA Weather at Cove Point, Maryland
- NOAA Weather at Potomac, Maryland
- NOAA Weather at Piney Point, Maryland
- NOAA PAX River Weather
- NOAA Weather Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System
- NOAA Internet Weather Source
- NOAA Chesapeake Bay Operational Forecast System (CBOFS)
It is very important that you understand how to use your weather radio functionality on your marine VHF radio. It also does not hurt to check the Coast Guard Notice to Mariners before you leave the dock.
Tides and Currents
It might be helpful to know what the tides are now and what they will be so you can understand how the the draft of your vessel will fair at various locations where the water tends to be shallow. It also might matter when you consider fuel consumption to know the current speed and direction, wind speed and direction and how those variables might change throughout the day. Some of the weather links above will have that information. At the very least you should consult a published tide table.
Safety Equipment Checklist
Develop a safety equipment checklist to make sure you have everything you need on board before you leave the dock. Check your navigation lights, spotlight(s), your engine, your batteries, steering, your bilge, your bilge pumps. your life saving equipment like vests and throw-able Type IV PFD’s. Is your boat hook on board? Is your craft small enough that an oar might be some help? Any buckets for nailing? Do you have extra engine parts like sheer pins, plugs, wires, clamps. Any extra navigation light bulbs and flashlights in your kit?
Do you have plenty of snacks and water on board for trips on hot days? Are you prepared for cold and inclement weather with cold weather survival gear? Flares, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, extra line for towing and so on.
Do yourself, your guests, and your family a BIG favor and have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Before you go make sure you are ready to go.
Auxiliary coxswains may want to check these Internet links:
Lastly do not forget to complete your GAR with your entire crew. Our Flotilla uses the following GAR Form. Link to GAR Form.