Monday, May 12, 2014
Well it’s May 10th and the boat is in the water and pretty much ready to go. Where I live the snow banks along my driveway are still a few feet high in some places but disappearing fast. Georgian Bay apparently still has some ice to the north. I heard about a boat that went into Twelve Mile Bay and later when it came time to leave it was blocked in by pack ice. At least that situation won’t last much longer but with water levels up about 10 inches there will likely be more floating debris and dead heads ... so take it easy for the first few weeks when boating out on the Bay and in the anchorages.
This is the time of year to take stock of your mandatory safety equipment. The most over looked items are fire extinguishers and flares. It’s a good idea to have your fire extinguishers recharged if the charge date is expired or the pressure gauge is outside of the “green zone”. Just as important take them all off the boat and give them a good bang on a solid surface to un-cake the powder at the bottom of the extinguisher. Otherwise if the powder has settled and caked and you need to use the extinguisher it will gas off but without the benefit of the powder that blankets and smothers the fire, the fire doesn’t go out.
Flares all have expiry dates so most boaters need to replace some every year in a staged approach. When you buy new flares check the expiry at the retailer as many chandleries have old stock that they usually sell at a discount. No sense in buying two year old flares unless you are just holding them as supplementary extras on top of your legal requirement for current flares. Many marinas have Canadian Power Squadron volunteers that come around to inspect your boat ... and if everything is in order from a safety and registration perspective your get an inspected/approved sticker. This could save you some time out on the water if you get stopped by the Police or Coast Guard, and if it’s just a standard courtesy on water inspection, it eliminates the rafting and boarding of your boat. Best of all these Power Squadron inspectors are volunteers and it’s free. If you don’t pass inspection you can quickly remedy the situation and they will come back to check and give you your sticker. Make sure your boat registration/documentation is also in order.
Last but not least when you're out and about, wear a life jacket. Especially in the spring when the water is still ice cold and your moving around the boat a lot getting reacquainted and checking things out. Have a great boating season.