Have you ever: stood in the cockpit with water swirling around your ankles, bailing as though the word depended on it – because it did; reached for the pin in a fire extingusher, trying to control your wildly shaking fingers as adrenaline rushed through your veins; or stared at a dead motor, wondering how the heck you’d get back to the dock? If you answered “yes,” to any of these questions then you’ve probably been boating for a while. If you answered “no,” then you should at least realize that it’s only a matter of time before something like this happens. Boating is actually an incredibly safe activity (with well over 12 million registered boats on the water, yearly fatalities run between 600 and 800 – an amazingly low number, if you think about it!) But any time you shove off the dock, there’s a risk of serious problems arising. Will you be ready for them? The chances will go up, if you remember these three emergency boat-saving tips:
1. If something in your boat’s microwave catches on fire, DO NOT open the door - just pull the plug. As soon as the fans shut off, the fire will smother in the air-tight environment.
2. An engine belt snapped and you don’t have a spare? Pull the strap out of a life jacket, and weave it around the pulleys. Pull it as tight as possible, use a fishhook or a piece of bailing wire to secure the strap to its other end, cut off any excess length, and head for home s-l-o-w-l-y.
3. If you’re sinking, you need assistance FAST, and there are boats within sight, don’t shoot off one flare and wait. Instead, shoot two flares 10 seconds apart. One flare may leave people questioning whether you really need help (or were shooting off fireworks, testing old flares, etc.), but the second one leaves no doubt.