Stay Legal: The Safe Fishing and Boating Checklist

You’ve been there before: you’re having a great time with your boat, enjoying a beautiful day of clear weather and a nice cool breeze on
the water, when suddenly you see a boat owned by your local authorities flag
you down. They want to make sure you’re adhering to all of the local laws when
it comes to boating, fishing, and the like – and though you do your best to
stay legal, you can’t help but be nervous.

Then, as it turns out, your nerves were justified. Maybe
they see something you’re doing wrong, and suddenly you’re slapped with a hefty
fine.

That’s one way to have your fun day ruined. Luckily, it
doesn’t have to be this way; you can adhere to all of the local laws,
ordinances, and rules to ensure that whenever the authorities flag you down,
you’re confident that you’ve done everything you can to stay fine-free. And
we’ve got a few tips for accomplishing just that.

Safety
First: Obey Your Local Safety Rules

no-wake-sign.jpgThe surest way to draw attention to yourself is to do
something with your boat that’s clearly unsafe. But we’ll assume that you’re a
conscientious boater who’s safe as a matter of principle rather than as a
matter of obeying the law. Still, there will be some important things for you
to remember:

  • Life
    jackets
    – At least one per person. This is virtually a universal rule on
    the water, and counting the lifejackets should be part of your pre-boating
    checklist. Make sure you have plenty of size-appropriate life jackets for
    children, too.
  • Don’t
    drink and boat
    – Another universal law. Not only is it dangerous, but
    drinking and boating risks the lives of other boaters, swimmers, fishers, and anyone
    else out on the water.
  • Complete
    boater education
    .Boater
    education requirements can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with
    your state’s website to ensure that you’ve got everything under your belt.

To be especially thorough, you can always register for a boating safety checklist from the
U.S. Coast Guard.

Be a Better Boater:
Protecting Your Natural Resources

That’s an interesting way to put it – your natural resources – but the truth is, the natural resources do
indeed belong to all of us. If you ignore fishing laws and the like, you’re not
only making the world a worse place for others, but you’re harming the same
thing you claim to love. Don’t be that way. Instead, make sure to follow local
regulations:

  • Know the
    local lake and river laws
    before you take anything out of the water that
    shouldn’t be in your boat. There can be hefty fines for fishing a protected
    species.
  • Observe
    the local ordinances.
    Some lakes have no-wake rules after a certain time,
    which means that you’ll be breaking a rule if you decide to water-ski after a
    specified time period.
  • Use the
    proper materials
    for cleaning your boat, and avoid harsh chemicals. You
    should thoroughly read all boat cleaning labels before you use them.

Being a conscientious boat owner isn’t only about following
a list of arbitrary rules – those rules are in place for a reason. The better
you understand them, not only will you find many rules helpful, but you’ll
start to take it upon yourself to live by them. 

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