• If you are in any form of danger, have everyone put on life jackets, use VHF Radio Channel 16 and say MAY DAY (life threatening emergency) or PAN PAN (non life threatening emergency) 3x with your location, brief description of problem, number of people on board. Or call 911 and they will notify the coast guard.

• Always know which way the current is flowing and wind direction. If you’re traveling with the current, objects in the water come at you’re a lot quicker, time your turns accordingly.

Don’t slow down too fast or you will swamp the back of the boat and make it very uncomfortable for your passengers.

• Pay attention to weight distribution of the boat. If boat is not steering well, make sure motor is tilted down and have passengers sit in the back.

Don’t drive close to other anchor lines. If you do, shut off engine and raise motor as quickly as possible until you are clear so it doesn’t get hung up. If you can’t, get boat hook and try to push anchor line down under the prop.

• When pulling up to another boat, don’t go directly to their stern because you may ram into it, pull up alongside the boat and give yourself enough room to not hit them.
• If you like to drive fast, make sure everything is secure and tucked away, hats are on backwards and you have your kill switch cord or a Man Overboard Signaling Device which will turn off the engine automatically if you are ejected from the boat.

Turn off engine when a swimmer is close to the boat.

• Always have your engine on and warmed up before you untie or pull up anchor.

  • Figure out which direction the wind and current are going. Look at flag or stuff floating in the water.
  • Get your bow line and stern line ready by tying one end to the boat, untangle and coil loosely and be ready to toss. If alone, bring the bow line towards the middle of the boat so that you hop off easily.
  • Put out the fenders and get out the boat hook if you have one.  Boat hooks are very helpful to have it easily accessible to help push off things and prevent damage.
  • Communicate with your crew about your planned approach is and what they can do (or not do) to help you.
  • Approach the dock or boat at a 45-degree angle if possible and go very slowly. Slow down boat by putting the throttle in neutral and then reverse and then back in gear when you’re in control.  Boat still steers while in neutral.
  • NEVER go faster than what you would want to hit something. Slower you go, the less damage you do!
  • If you have mates, have one at the bow and one at the stern. Once at the dock, the mate at the bow should take a “Turn Around the Cleat” to keep the bow in place while the stern line is secured.  Be sure to communicate and have them tell you stern is secure and then secure the bow line.
  • When both bow and stern lines are secure, put on the spring line which goes from the stern of other boat (or dock) to your midship or middle section of the boat
  • Turn off engine after boat is properly secured

When anchoring at the beach, it’s helpful to use both a bow and stern anchor to keep the boat in place.  This will make it so that you can get on and off easily and it will keep you from swinging into other boats.  Another benefit is that if you are in a tidal area, you can adjust the anchor lines to bring your boat in deeper or shallower water so that you can access it at any time.

There are many different ways to do it but this is one of my favorite ways to do it:

  • Get both bow and stern anchors out and ready with line untangled and ready to throw.  Option to tie the stern anchor on with about appropriate amount of slack depending on how deep the beach gets.
  • Communicate to your crew the plan and tell guests to wait until the boat is secure before getting off the boat.
  • Figure out the current and wind situation and look at how other boats are anchored. What time is low/high tide?   That will factor in if you want to anchor closer or further from the beach.
  • Head very slowly towards the beach. If there is a current, try to drive in at an angle against the current to have the most control.
  • Drop the bow anchor in over the side where the current is hitting your boat so that the boat is drifting away from the line, not over it as you head towards the beach.
  • Continue to let out the line as you head slowly towards the beach with your engine on but trimmed up. Once you are getting close to your engine hitting, keep the momentum going and shut off your engine, tilt it up and glide bow into the beach.
  • Once you are at the beach, put your stern anchor in the sand  on the “up current” side tie it up to the stern and temporarily tie up the bow anchor. You can let your passengers and gear out in shallow water before or after you secure the boat, depends on situation.  Then you’ll want to adjust the bow and stern anchor line to get the right placement and get the boat in a good depth.
  • Placement of the anchor is better to be further from the beach in deeper water so that you can shorten up the anchor line throughout the day to get it to deeper water as the tide goes out. If you drop the anchor too close to the beach, you won’t have enough slack to shorten up the line and you’ll have to reset the anchor.  When the tide is coming in, it’s’ good to still keep your anchor in deeper water and keep letting the line out to bring you closer to the beach.  When you leave the beach, you can pull your stern line and shorten up your bow line to have plenty of water to get your engine started and warmed up.
  • Figure out which direction the wind and current are going. Look at flags or stuff floating in the water.
  • What is the tide doing? Is it going to change while you are anchored?  Do you have enough room around you for when the tide turns?
  • Pick a spot where your boat can swing in a circle or 360 degrees free from hitting anything like boats, rocks, or sandbars around you
  • Head against the current and wind or in the same direction as other boats.
  • Drop anchor slowly, never throw it because it gets tangled.
  • Once the anchor has hit the bottom, take a turn around the cleat and wait for it to set and adjust the amount of line out.
  • Put out enough line so that it’s at least in a 45 degree angle or a 5:1 ratio at the very least.  If it’s windy or the current is extra strong, put out more line which will make the anchor more secure.
  • Communicate with the person driving the boat and let them know when the anchor is secure.  Wait for the boat to swing into natural position before shutting off engines.
  • Keep an eye out for your anchor slipping.  It’s helpful to get a line of sight as to where you are anchored by picking land objects on each lateral side of the boat.  Make sure you remain in that same spot and your anchor isn’t slipping.
  • If the anchor isn’t holding, it could be a few reasons:
    • Ocean floor is rocky or not catching your anchor
    • Not enough anchor line out
    • Not enough chain on your anchor
    • Anchor is not the correct size for the boat
    • If you are tied up with multiple boats, the anchor may not be big enough.

When leaving the beach, the main goal is to get your boat in enough water to start the engine while you are securely anchored and make sure it’s warmed up.   You don’t want to take off from the beach and then go to start your engine and it won’t start while your getting tangled in other people’s anchor lines or crashing into other boats.  There are a few different ways that you can do it depending on how much water you have and how many boats are around you.

  • Have guests sitting and communicate the plan with the crew their responsibilities. One person at the bow, one at the helm.
  • Get boat in enough water where you can start your engine, and have motor tilted up but enough so that water is coming out of the outtake.
    • Option 1:  Pull up your stern anchor and then shorten up the bow anchor line to get you in deeper water.   If you can’t do that safely, have someone on the beach keep you in place while you get engine started.
    • Option 2: Turn the boat bow in so the engine is in deep water
  • Departure:  If you are bow out, and you have a lot of anchor line, have mate start to pull the anchor at a steady pace to gain momentum.  You can also put it in forward and neutral to stay at a slow speed and help as your mate is pulling in the anchor.
  • If necessary, use a paddle or a boat hook to get yourself to deeper water
  • Be careful of everyone’s anchor lines. If you cross one, shut off engine and lift it so it doesn’t get tangled.
  • Have guests sitting and crew ready to leave
  • Start engine and make sure it’s warmed up
  • Get boat hook ready and tell guests to not put their arms out if you are about to hit something. Try using a “walking fender” and have them insert the fender wherever you are about to hit.
  • Look around and see if there are other boats trying to get in or out.
  • Untie bow first, then stern and then push the boat away from the dock with a boat hook.   The goal is to be able to leave the dock without people using their hands and legs to push you off.  While that is in progress, use a boat hook to reduce injuries.
  • Advanced tip: You may want to use the stern line or bow line to turn boat in a tight area.  Figure out which way the current and wind is going and where the boat will naturally drift and use that to your advantage.  With the line, take one turn around the cleat on the dock use the throttle lightly so that the bow or stern spins out and the quickly pull in line without it staying in the water to get tangled in the prop.  That’s something to work on, it’s very helpful!

This is mostly used when someone’s hat flies off or something blows out of the boat.  However, it could be a human and it’s always good to practice so your ready when the time comes.

  • Have one person keep their eye on the person/object and pointing at them the entire time.
  • If it’s a person, get a floatable device (life ring or cushion) tied to a rope and get ready to throw it to them at the earliest opportunity.
  • Get out the boat hook to grab object or that a person can use to that you can pull them in.
  • If it’s a person- get out ladder or make way for them to get in boat. You may need to get a rope to tie around them, underneath their arms to pull them in, facing out so they don’t hurt their face.
  • Approach the object VERY SLOLWY head on until you get about 10 feet away, and then sharply turn the boat so that it comes right to the stern to pick up. If it’s a person, don’t get dangerously close, throw them the floatable device and aim for beyond their shoulder so that you aren’t hitting them in the face and the line is easy to grab and reel them in.  Make sure the engine is off when you get close to them.

Overwhelmed getting ready for the boat?  Stay on top of your game with these lists!

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