Spring is upon us and there is no better time to give your boat a full annual review. This includes, but is not limited to, going through a complete maintenance checklist, a Vessel Safety Check, a review of current and updated boating safety laws/best practices, and a conversation with your insurance carrier to ensure proper coverage for the upcoming summer boating season.
Frequent use boat owners are typically encouraged to go through checklists based on number of hours run on the water. If your boat has been sitting throughout the winter however, it may also be a good idea to run through these checklists. A bow to stern, top to bottom, run-through can prevent potential issues later in the middle of summer or even on your initial day back on the water. This pertains to your trailer as well. If you are trailering your boat to the local boat ramp each time, then your trailer is just as important to keep maintained as your boat. These checklists contain everything from keeping things greased up and lubricated, to checking and cleaning all electrical components, and tightening any loose screws. Boat U.S. has a great checklist resource available for boat owners wanting to DIY it. Otherwise, take your boat to a trusted/licensed mechanic.
A Vessel Safety Check (VSC) only takes 15- 30 minutes. They will even come to you, whether your boat is in your driveway, backyard, or docked in the water. Items such as life jackets, registration/numbering, navigation lights, ventilation, fire extinguishers, distress signals, and battery connections/covers are checked. If your boat does not meet compliance with State and Federal boating laws, a citation is NOT issued, but they will provide a written report on how to correct any discrepancies. (However, if you were to get pulled over on the water, that would not be the case and you could be cited). Vessels who pass the Safety Check are awarded a sticker that informs all law enforcement and safety agencies that you are in full compliance. This service is 100% free of charge and in many cases your marine insurance carrier will offer a #discount for vessels that receive a VSC. If you don’t pass, you will know the areas to focus your efforts on for maximum vessel safety on the water.
Along with the VSC, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary offers boating safety classes for a nominal $35. Many marine insurance carriers will provide an insurance discount for clients who take this course. For first time or young boaters, this is not only a great introduction to boating, but an essential course on teaching the proper methods of navigating waterways, boating laws, necessary safety equipment, what to do in an emergency, watersport recreation, and trailering. It’s safe to say there are even some veteran boaters out there who could use a refresher on some of these materials. For a good laugh or a “what not to do” most of them can be found by following The Qualified Captain on Instagram. #TheQualifiedCaptain
SPECIAL WELLS CLIENT OFFER:
If a boating safety class interests you, the team at Wells Marine Insurance will be hosting a free USCGA Boating Safety Class on Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM at our office at 5712 Oleander Drive in Wilmington, NC. The class will be limited to 12 participants on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will be providing a catered lunch and cover the coast of the class (normally $35) for our clients. You can sign up for this class by
Another good resource is the US Coast Guard’s Recreational Boaters page which has several resources, as well as updated laws for boaters. One new law that went into effect last year, for example, is the Engine Cut-off Switch (ECOS) which applies to all “Navigable Waters of the US”. Information regarding accident reports, propeller safety, proper use of life jackets, paddling (kayak, canoe or SUP), recalls/safety defects, and other FAQ’s can be found there as well.
And finally, the USCG Mobile App is provided for free as another boating safety measure and includes state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. Users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water. The app also features an Emergency Assistance button which, with locations services enabled, will call the closest Coast Guard command center.
Boating Safety Mobile App
As the excitement mounts to get back out on the water now that it’s warming up, we encourage everyone to stay informed and stay safe to fully enjoy the amazing resource we have here. Spring is a great time to call and check in (or email us) with your Wells Marine Insurance agent (910.795.2512) to update them on whether anything has changed with your boat’s location, its private versus commercial use, etc. Or, if anything has changed within the terms of your policy regarding navigation limits, necessary survey updates, or costs, they can discuss those things with you as well. Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns. We look forward to continuing to serve our community and see ya’ll out on the water!