Prepare for a Happy and Safe Holiday

By Jonie Maschek

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. It is Independence Day.

To many it is a day to celebrate but we hope you will be careful and stay safe on this day.

The waterways will be as crowded as the freeways. I am concerned that some of you will forget to watch out for others as you celebrate Independence Day.

I hope everyone who using these waterways are familiar with this area. Do you know were the sandbars are? How to get out the little island maze on their way out to the Bay. I have seen people go aground and been stuck out there all day waiting for high tide. One person I know had to stay on a island all night waiting for the tide to come in.

One angler became confused and couldn’t find his way out of the maze of mangroves. He went around in circles until he ran out of gas. I have always heard that no matter how big or small your gas tank is always remember — 1/3 tank to go out; 1/3 to play on; and 1/3 to come home on. The person who was lost was pulled in by another boater.

It is a tradition with many a boater to cruise out into the Bay on the fourth of July and sort of party until the fireworks start. You can see a show of beauty after dark from the middle of the Bay in almost every direction, Tampa, St. Pete and Bradenton. Be sure to look out for groups of anchored boats. Don’t be racing across the waterways. The boaters are anchored and ready to watch the show of aerial fireworks.

Boaters should leave an itinerary of intent before they leave on a trip, stating where you are going and when they intend to return. The information could also be left on your windshield or with a friend or loved one at home.

Be sure and check your vessel from top to toe before you leave.

Check the gas
Check life jackets
Check fire extinguishers
Check the battery
Check the anchor
Check all lines
Check means of seeking aid in case of trouble — a whistle, flag or flare.
Have a cell phone aboard, plus your sip to sore radio.
Have plenty of good drinking water aboard and food.
Have a blanket or two and some dry clothing for each person aboard.
A complete firs aid kit. Put some matches in it.
A can of sardines (you can eat them or catch fish with them).

If you happen to have an accident, you must report it to the local authorities.

The law states “As the operator of a vessel you are required by law to file a formal, written report of an accident with local authorities.”

Damage is determined by federal regulations. Boaters should know the current laws.

There is a time limit of 48 hours if there is a loss of life. Capsizing, falls overboard, collisions, sinking, struck by a boat prop, swamping and flooding, fire, explosion and disappearance (other than theft) must be reported.

It would be wise to always keep a Coast Guard Accident Report aboard. This may be used in any state.
This form should be filled out by the operator of the boat, or if he is physically unable to do so, the boat owners must fill it out.

Many are aware of all of this but there are a lot of novice boaters out there or people visiting who do not know the waterways.

Rain has not stopped anyone from fishing this week.

Catches have been numerous of every variety.

Some of the flounder catches have been extra large and one angler tells me the one ones he caught were “As large as a galvanized wash tub.” I could tell he has been around here for a long time by that conversation.

Some exciting catches for anglers this week were redfish. They are a game fish and gives the angler a good run before being boated.

Grouper are still being hooked and boated for anglers going out 40 mile or more.

Black drum are large and I would caution anyone catching them to watch for worms in them.

Cobia are still out here and are a big catch.

Love, live and play. Have a Happy and Safe Holiday.

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