Recently I was asked several questions by a person looking to purchase a boat. His first question was how many people can I take out in a boat at a time? This is kind of a loaded question because it varies from boat to boat. Of course you can take out more people in say a 20 foot bass boat than you can in a 16 foot aluminum one, which is common sense, but there are ways to be sure.
You can check the owner’s manual of the boat if it is available of course. Also, the law requires that a Maximum Capacity plate be posted somewhere on your boat. Its usually located somewhere close to the drivers seat. This is the easiest way to check and verify the number of people you can take on your boating trip with you. Never exceed the specified capacity, not only for safety reasons but because of the legalities. I have personally heard of boaters actually getting a ticket because they exceeded the passenger count.
His next question was concerning life vests. How many life vests do I have to have in the boat? As to PFD’s, Personal Floatation Device, you must have 1 for every passenger on board. I know that regulations vary from state to state or even lake to lake so be sure you check your laws. I believe in California the law states that anyone under the age of 16 must wear the PFD when under power. Personally, I feel it’s a good ideal for everyone to wear their PFD at all times but especially while under power. Every fishing tournament organization that I have ever fished in requires this as well as having a line connected to your kill switch in the event you go over board.
During the colder months of the year it is very important to wear one at all times, even id you’re an experienced swimmer for a couple reasons. First off, the water is cold. It does not take long for the cold water to make your legs start to cramp up thereby making it more difficult to climb back into the boat if you happen to fall in the drink and it does not take long for hypothermia to set in.
Next, think about the fact that chances are you will be wearing more clothing to stay warm. I konw that I personally layer my clothing during the winter, that way as it warms up I can remove a layer as needed that way I stay comfortable. If by some chance you happen to “go for a swim” the layers of clothing absorb more water thereby adding more weight, making it more difficult to climb back in.
As to which type of PDF, I like this one myself. Its a tournament grade vest made by Mustang. They are very light weight, comfortable and if you get thrown out while going across the water and God forbid you happen to get knocked unconscious they automatically inflate which will save your life.
His final question was what other safety stuff do I need? I don’t know about your neck of the woods but in California need a flotation throw cushion, some kind of sounding device like a whistle or a horn of some type and an oar. I know people that carry a flair gun but I don’t believe it’s required by law, at least in fresh water.
Hopefully I have given you some information you can use. Please be careful out there and have fun.
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Until Next Time, Good Luck and Tight Lines To Ya!