Boating is a very popular summer recreation and includes all power, hand, and wind propelled watercraft. Before leaving home, insure you have all the necessary safety equipment to include lifejackets. Remember that when heading out either by yourself or with a group, always tell someone where you are going. Keep a close eye to the weather forecast to prepare for any unexpected changes such as thunderstorms, wind, and fog. Also, be familiar with the water body you plan to visit. Learn the depth and any hazards that may be of particular concern. Local lake associations, Maine Guides, and marinas can be very helpful with this information. If you happen to be checked by a Game Warden, they can provide you with helpful information as well.
Every year, boaters are killed in boat crashes on Maine waters. Take a few minutes now to learn how you can boat safely.Leave alcohol on shore and never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol's effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration. Use and maintain the right safety equipment.
Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices - State law requires each person on board to have a properly-fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved serviceable life jacket. Also, boats longer than 16 feet must have a throwable PFD. The Maine Warden Service recommends that everyone wear his or her lifejackets while on the water.
- If your boat has any enclosed compartments or a false floor you must carry a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher. Make sure it is charged and accessible.
- Always test your boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries.
- Keep emergency supplies on board in a floating pouch complete with maps, flares, and a first aid kit.
- And make sure you have an anchor and can properly use it.
Be Weather Wise:
- Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing.
- If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line in inclement weather.
- Cold water temperatures, particularly in spring and fall, increase the risk of hypothermia.
Be sure to take these steps before getting underway.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
- Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes, do not start the engine.
- Make certain your registration is up to date and on board with you and that your boat displays the current year sticker.
- Do not overload your boat. Abide by the listed weight capacity and make sure all equipment is working and that the plug is in.
Follow Navigation and Other Rules on the Water wear your lifejacket and have everybody on board wear his or hers. In 2008, Game Wardens encountered 1,411 violations related to lifejackets. Be sure that you do not become part of our statistics. Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard. After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch. And follow all boat traffic rules. Use the mandated navigation lights from sunset to sunrise and slow down.
Spring comes to us at very different times in Maine depending on your location. Northern Maine holds on to winter as long as it can and it often feels like winter well into spring. Spring comes to Southern Maine much sooner in most years, often a month earlier than the north and mountain regions of Maine. Outdoor enthusiasts eagerly await spring and become involved in a wide variety of activities. Spring Fishing is another popular way many people choose to enjoy this time of year. As with any other outdoor activity, tell someone where you plan to fish. Even if you plan to fish from shore, bring along a lifejacket. Rivers, brooks, and streams can be very dangerous to navigate on foot. Wearing a lifejacket while standing in any of body of water increases your safety and may save your life should you fall and be swept downstream.