Boating Safety and Safe Boating Blog

Friday, December 9th, 2011

by Brent McNamee

The Gift of Safety: Last Minute Ideas for the Boating Fanatic

It’s that time of year again. Some folks have had their shopping done for months. But for more than a few of us, there’s still a lot to be done. Where to start? If your loved ones are crazy about being out on the water, here are a few gifts that show how much you care—and show your good taste. Yes, these safety-themed items also have a bit of style.

1. A cool PFD: Be safe. Look great.

It’s a fact: the number one way to prevent a fatality while boating is to wear a life jacket. But many boaters still resist strapping one on, citing the way they look or feel. Well, the new generation of PFDs not only do the job (keep your head above water) they also look and fit great. So, no excuses. Here are a few of our favorites:

2. A gift that doesn’t require wrapping? There’s an app for that.

Need to send a last minute gift to someone out of town? For the owner of a smart phone or tablet, here’s a gift that requires no wrapping or postage—an app. Gifting an app (for an iPhone, iPad or Android device) is incredibly easy. And there are some great boating apps out there! Some of the most useful are marine navigation charts, and they’re great from a safety perspective too. Here are three popular choices:

3. Waterproof VHF marine radio: Be heard when it counts

A marine VHF radio is a must on all larger vessels but it can come in handy on even the smallest boats for checking in with marinas, other vessels, or getting the weather update. Most important, Channel 16 is dedicated for distress signaling, so if you get in trouble, and you have a VHF radio, you are going to be heard. There are lots of options out there, but this handy and affordable waterproof model caught our eye:

4. Tri-power whistle: Be heard when it counts (take 2)

Whether on the water or on your street, in an emergency often your greatest need is to be heard. This small, very loud (120 decibels loud), almost indestructible whistle is the perfect everyday safety companion. Designed by search and rescue professionals, it’s also only $5! So pick up a few as stocking stuffers and make sure the people you care about have one on their keychain and on their PFD.

Approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and used by the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), this is not your everyday piece of plastic:

5. Personal Locator/Tracker

For those really going out in the wild, a personal locator or tracker can be a huge asset. And if you get a SPOT Personal Tracker, you can also use it to check in with loved ones to say you’re okay. The SPOT works from satellite positioning in order to give your location when you’re off the cell grid. Another option for personal location services is a Position Locator Beacon, such as the McMurdo Fastfind. Unlike the SPOT service, PLBs do not require a subscription, however, they cost a little more upfront. There are arguments for both, however, the bottom line is if you need to be found in the wilderness, either of these is better than none.

6. Re-entry Ladder

Falling out of your boat is one thing. Not being able to get back in is quite another. Not only does it not look very smooth, it can be downright dangerous, especially if out fishing solo. Statistics show that many boating fatalities stem from falls overboard, often when boaters are out alone. It can be very difficult to get back in your boat and cold water shock can set in quickly.

One of the ways to make sure your favorite angler is prepared for an unexpected spill is to have a re-entry ladder installed on his or her boat. You can install a fixed ladder to your boat, but here are two other interesting options that caught our eye:

7. A Boating Safety Course

Whether it means knowing what to do at the boat launch or what to do when storm clouds roll in out on the water, being prepared is always cool. Not to mention, getting a fine never looks good. In Canada, and in most states in the U.S., you need a boating safety certificate in order to legally operate a motorized vessel. Taking a boating safety course leading to certification also prepares boaters for a range of different situations, from routine maintenance to trailering to storm preparedness.

There are many boating courses out there, but we’d like to toot our own horn as one the best options. Our online course is convenient, engaging, approved by NASBLA and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. We have also certified over 1 million boaters. Not bad. Give our course as a gift and help your favorite boater be prepared this year: BOATERexam.com®.


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