Before you head out,
check the local weather and sea conditions. Weather information is available by
listening to local radio stations, U.S. Coast Guard radio, or the National
Weather Service VHF/FM broadcasts on frequencies: 162.400, 162.425, 162.475 and
162.550 MHz in areas where available. Along the Oregon coast, tune in to 1610 AM for local
weather and coastal bar crossing information. Storm warning flags are displayed
at selected coastal locations such as U.S. Coast Guard stations, marinas, public
piers and yacht clubs. These signals are a prediction of potentially dangerous
wind, or in the case of small craft warnings, winds and seas dangerous to small
boats. Boaters should know the signals and heed their warnings, especially at
coastal bar locations. Learn more about communication devices.
Most fires and explosions
happen shortly after fueling. To prevent this type of accident, follow these rules:
1. Fuel before dark.
2. Don’t smoke or strike
3. Shut off motors. Turn
off electrical equipment.
4. Close all windows,
doors and openings.
5. Take portable tanks out
of the boat and fill them on the dock.
6. Keep the fill nozzle in
contact with the tank rim to prevent a buildup of static electricity, which
could produce a spark.
7. Fuel tanks expand as
they warm. Do not fill tanks completely, because overfilling can lead to
8. Wipe up any spilled
gasoline from around the boat. Discard the cloth in a safe manner. The bilge
pad will soak up any overflow or spills while protecting the water.
9. If your boat is equipped
with a power ventilation system (blower), turn it on for at least four minutes after
fueling, prior to starting your engine. This will help eliminate gas vapors in
10. Before restarting
the engine, sniff the bilge and engine compartments for fumes. Periodically
check the entire fuel system for leaks. Some fuels contain alcohol
(ethanol-blended fuel), which can cause rubber gaskets and hoses to deteriorate,
resulting in fuel leaks and clogged fuel filters. Be sure to winterize your
boat each season, so it runs well.
Boaters who plan a trip
for more than a day should complete a “Float Plan” and leave it with a friend
or neighbor. Then, if you don’t return as planned, the proper agency can be
notified. The float plan will provide the necessary information including where
you are going and when you’re expecting to be back. Be sure to tell people when
• Do not
exceed either the stated maximum weight capacity or the maximum number of
people indicated by your boat capacity plate.
maximum weight is the combined weight of passengers, gear and motors (including
ballast tanks or other devices).
• It’s a
violation to exceed the boat capacity. If your boat does not have a capacity
plate, use the following formula to determine the number of people the boat
will safely carry, and do not exceed that limit.
Number of people = Length of boat (in feet) X Width of boat
The results give the
number of persons (150 lb. average) that can be put aboard without crowding, in
good weather conditions. Overloading a boat is not only dangerous, it’s
Ramp Etiquette for Boaters
The following tips are
offered to assist you in launching and retrieving your boat to avoid
unnecessary delay and blocking the ramp. Conduct these operations in the
“staging area,” as much as possible.
1. Be sure all required
safety equipment and certificate of number are on board. You must also carry a
boater education card if the boat motor is over 10 hp.
2. Load your boat with
your gear and supplies.
3. Make sure the trailer
tongue is securely fastened to the ball hitch, remove all tie-downs and un-plug
the trailer lights.
4. Check condition of
battery, motor and angle of drive unit (tilted up). Also, make sure your bilge
5. Make sure the boat
plug is firmly in place.
Launching (retrieving is in reverse order)
1. Slowly reverse the
boat trailer down the ramp, and stop just before the stern hangs over the
2. Disconnect the winch
strap and remove any pins or other devices used to prevent an outboard motor
from tipping down.
3. Back the boat trailer
down the ramp until the trailer wheels are submerged. Have a helper take a bow
line, or tie it to your vehicle or winch handle.
4. Float off
the trailer. Once the boat is away from the trailer, tie your vessel to the
dock with the bow line. Avoid "power loading," which displaces material at the toe of the boat ramp, causing deep ruts and shoals that making launching and retrieving potentially dangerous. This practice can also cause significant damage to the toe of the ramp, not to mention a boat trailer or boat hull.
Experienced boaters will
have someone move the boat away from the dock until the driver has parked and
is ready to board.
5. Always run the blower
for four minutes before you start the engine. You can begin this process at the
staging area to reduce your wait time.
courteous! The less time you spend on the ramp or at the dock, the more other
boaters will appreciate you.
Oregon law requires a
two-year trailer registration, when the loaded weight of the trailer and boat
exceed 1800 pounds. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registers trailers.
Trailers, including boat
trailers, must have stop, tail and turn signal lights with two red reflectors
mounted on the rear of the trailer. They must also have side reflectors and
marker lights: amber on the side at the front, and red on the sides at the rear.
These lights and reflectors may be separate units or installed in combinations.
If the trailer is over 80 inches wide, it must have clearance and identification
lights. If the trailer has a license plate, it must have a license plate light.
Booster brakes are best
with heavy boats. The driver of the towing vehicle must be able to safely stop
in a reasonable distance.
Adequate tie-downs are
needed at the bow and stern. Temporary bumper hitches
are not recommended.
Hitches should be welded
or bolted to the frame of the towing vehicle.
One or two safety chains
or cables are required, connected to prevent the tow bar from dropping to the ground
in the event the toolbar or coupling device fails. The chains or cables must have
a tensile strength equal to the weight of the trailer, and long enough to
permit proper turning of the vehicle. Take time to practice maneuvering and
backing in an open area before launching at the ramp, to develop proficiency. Keep in mind, backing down a ramp in a straight
line is more difficult than on level ground.
Safety Checklist -When Renting a Boat
All persons operating a
rented watercraft greater than 10 hp must carry the signed portion of the Watercraft Rental
Safety Checklist if they do not already possess a boater education card. All
other provisions of the Mandatory Boater Education Program apply, including minimum
operator ages and supervision. The livery, or rental facility, will have each
boat operator complete this form and walk through basic boating safety items on
this checklist with a qualified staff member. Your signed copy of this
checklist acts as a temporary boater education card only during the operation
of the rented watercraft.
“Stability” is the
resistance of a boat to forces that tend to induce a boat to “tip” from one
side to the other. Smaller boats tend to have less stability based on the
center of gravity of the boat, AND the individuals in the boat. People, gear,
and environmental conditions have a greater stability impact on smaller,
lighter boats. Small boat operators need to pay close attention to weather
conditions, water conditions, how their boat is operating, gear weight and most
importantly, their own impact on overall stability. Never stand up quickly,
even when landing a big fish! Keep your center of gravity along the center line
of the boat as much as possible. Falls overboard and capsizing are the primary
contributing factors of accidents and fatalities in Oregon.
responsible for carefully loading supplies and seating passengers properly.
1. Spread weight evenly.
2. Fasten gear to
3. Keep passengers
seated in designated areas. Sitting on the gunwales, bow, or transom of a boat
that’s underway is unsafe and illegal.
4. Don’t overload the
boat. Follow the boat manufacturer’s capacity plate.