Winter Weather Boating Safety tips from Sheriff's Office

Winter weather is upon us as we will be seeing high winds, heavy rain, and the chances of sleet and snowfall. We would like to extend our efforts in keeping the community and personal property safe by sharing these tips regarding boating operations and storage.

If you are planning on conducting recreational boating activities this winter for activities such as fishing or pleasure cruises, please remember to check weather conditions several times prior to launching and while on your voyage. It is recommended that you build a float plan with a family member prior to the voyage, to include when you are departing, where you are going, what rout you are taking and what time you expect to return. You should insure all safety equipment including lifejackets, distress signals, working communication devices, and extra warm clothing are aboard your vessel. The dangers of hypothermic situations out on the water are much higher in the winter months due to the cold air temperatures, and the few degrees drop in water temperatures. Be cognizant not only of your vessels ability but your piloting ability as well. If you have any question as to whether it is safe or not to voyage on any particular day, our recommendation is you DO NOT LAUNCH.

When securing your vessel, please insure the equipment used to secure the vessel is in good working condition. Every year we have several boats drag anchor, or break loose from their mooring, only to wash up on the beach, drift into other vessels and/or sink. If you do have a vessel moored, anchored or tied to a dock slip, please remember to maintain your vessel. It is encouraged that you ensure all your bilge pumps on board are actively working, your lines are in good condition and what you are securing your vessel to is in good working condition. It is further encouraged that you conduct frequent checks on all these items before and after a windstorm. High winds combined with poor maintenance are the leading cause to vessels breaking loose from their moorage and causing several thousand dollars’ worth of damage.

If you have any questions regarding boating safety, please feel free to call the Sheriff Office.

Written by Deputy Raymond Harvey

Marine Coordinator

San Juan County Sheriff's Office

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