6 Tips for Safe Boating This Summer

First, make sure you talk to your western Wisconsin or Minnesota boating insurance agent to make sure you have proper coverage for the active boating season. Our agents at Baldwin Woodville Insurance are always available to help you research what you need, and to provide it at a great value.

Once you are legally ready to go, all that’s left is to remember these safety tips for a satisfying summer on the water with friends and family.

  1. No drinking (or drugs) when boating. Not only is this a Wisconsin boating law, but it’s common sense. You need to be fully alert to operate your vessel safely.
  2. Lifejackets for everyone. There must be a wearable personal floating device, or
    lifejacket, for each person on the boat. Children under the age of 13 must wear a lifejacket while boating. Additionally, if your vessel is 16 feet or longer, you must have one throwable PFD in an easily accessible location.
  3. Develop and use a pre-departure checklist. This is a great way to make sure you are prepared for anything that might happen while boating, and that you have all the required and recommended safety gear, before you head out onto the open water.
  4. Operate your boat responsibly. Don’t ever head into a marked off area or a swim area. Don’t weave your boat in and out of other boats. Besides being rude, it’s dangerous. Also, sometimes things that seem funny are really not, like steering your boat directly at an object or person and veering off at the last possible moment. It might seem hilarious at the time, but it’s just not safe.
  5. This one may seem obvious, but learn to swim. Being out on a boat is no guarantee that you won’t end up in the water. Hopefully, with safe operation, you won’t. But if you do, even with a flotation device, you should be able to do some basic swim strokes to reach safety.
  6. Check the Wisconsin laws regarding speed. There are different guidelines for different types of water, areas of lakes/rivers, and weather circumstances.

Following these tips are the best way to keep our waters safe and fun for everyone. You can read a detailed pamphlet outlining Wisconsin boating laws here. If you’re ever in doubt, err on the side of caution. After all, boating is much more fun when you’re not paying off huge fines, or lying in a hospital bed!

Preparing for Memorial Day: Get Your Boat Ready

Memorial Day is almost here, and it’s time to take out the boat for the summer! Giddy days are ahead, but first, you need to make sure everything is (sorry for this) ship shape. First, make sure to get ahold of your Baldwin Woodville agent and make sure to switch from the winter storage insurance to your full use summer Minnesota or Western Wisconsin boating insurance policy. Also check that your current registration is onboard.

Cleaning and Minor Repair

Once that’s taken care of, it’s time to spend some quality time with your boat. No matter what kind of boat you have, you will need to give her an overall cleaning, including the deck, topside, and hull. It’s best to use a mild detergent for this. Also clean the windows, hatches, canvas, and all the interior, including the bilges.

As you clean, look out for abrasions, gouges, or scratches, and repair them. Your local sports shop can help you find the right products. Do any refinishing that might be necessary if you have blisters, and touch up your antifouling paint as necessary.

Finally, give her a good waxing, and shine up the metal with a good polishing. There’s no point having a boat for our short Midwestern summers if it doesn’t look beautiful.

Safety and Electric

Make sure that you have cleaned and greased the winches, lubricated the blocks and pad eyes, and checked out the dinghy and/or life raft. The batteries will likely need recharging, so do that, as well as checking the battery water level. Go through all the wiring and check for corrosion, wearing, or chafing, and do the repairs as necessary.

Wisconsin boating law requires you to have the following equipment onboard whenever you operate your boat:

  • Personal flotation devices (PDF)
  • Sound-producing devices
  • Fire extinguisher(s)
  • Navigation lights, in working order
  • Ventilation system
  • Backfire flame arrestor(s)
  • Mufflers which meet the noise level limits (in Wisconsin, 86 dBA)
  • Visual distress signals (VDS)

Before Heading Out

There are a few things to check before you go out on the water.

  • Check the capacity plate to make sure you do not overload your boat.
  • Secure everything throughout your boat before driving with it on the trailer.
  • Do all the cleaning and preparation away from the boat ramp.
  • Remove any plant life from the boat before entering the water.

One thing you should definitely do before heading out for a summer of fun on your boat is to read all the Wisconsin boating laws, which can be found here. Have a fun and safe summer!