When stranded on the water, the first thing to do is to drop your anchor and secure it to the boat. Then contact someone for assistance and tell them your location.
One of our most important safety features we need on our boats is a Marine VHF radio. At the Fish Camp outing, I received a radio call from a member who had a disabled boat. A member coming to the raft up heard the distress call and radioed that he would help. The people on the disabled vessel got on the rescue boat and proceeded to the outing. If you do not have a marine radio, please get one and have it on your boat for each outing.
As much as radios are a very important safety item for all boaters on the water, they can be very inefficient if not used properly. The biggest problem is radio users not waiting for a clear channel before they spoke. When you try to talk when someone else is talking, usually no one gets the message. Therefore, it is imperative that you wait for the channel to be clear before transmitting. Use the adjustments of your VHF radio for proper transmitting and receiving. Most radios have two or three different wattage settings for transmission. The highest wattage should be used for maximum distance. Close-in transmission should use a lower setting. The second radio setting is your squelch. Squelch setting is used to limit noise on your radio. When there is abundant noise on your radio, turn your squelch down just until the noise stops. If you have trouble in receiving call backs you probably need to turn your squelch up. If you still are having problems, read your radio manual.
A. If you have to go up to a pole in the water or a dock, ease the boat up against it, then leave it in gear at idle speed which will hold the boat against the object. If you have a starboard breeze, it tends to push your boat to the port. While you are against the dock or piling, in gear at idle speed, you can keep the boat straight by turning your wheel to the left. This will cause the motor to push the boat against the breeze. You can adjust the angle of the boat by turning the wheel right or left as needed. When you are done, put it in reverse and back away.
B. When loading your boat on a trailer or putting it in a slip and you have a cross wind blowing from port or starboard, you would approach by moving toward the wind, away from your desired end result. Move very slowly forward and let the breeze help you line up with your desired objective.
Boat handling in breezy weather is always problematic in close quarters. Therefore, the more experiences you have with this scenario, the better you will become in handling your boat.
Your nylon lines should be a minimum of 3/8” or 1/2”. Do not use plastic ski ropes or any polypropylene. The front end of the boat should have cross tied lines, simply meaning the right pontoon ties to the left side dock cleat and the left pontoon ties to the right side dock cleat. This will allow the boat to rise and fall with the water level. You need to have two lines on the side of the boat to control forward and aft movement. Secure a line to the rear of the boat and tie to a cleat on the dock. This will keep the boat secure and straight. If you do not have rub blocks (described in a past newsletter), then place four fenders on the dock side.
You should remove your backdrop, playpen cover, seat covers, and motor cover so the wind can blow through the boat without ripping off covers. The bimini top, depending on your location, can be left up or folded down and secured tightly. Make sure you secure the boot to the top. I have lived here 17 years and maintained a marina for 7 years and during all that time, I had no damage at all.