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Safety tips for Hawaii’s year-round boaters

Boating Safely
Boating SafelyRay Pendleton

In most of the U.S., boaters often do a complete, annual safety inspection of their vessels at the beginning of the “boating season” sometime in early spring. But in Hawaii, even though spring is noted on the calendar, boat owners frequently forget to conduct such comprehensive inspections because the boating season is essentially year-round.

This can pose hazards to boaters, as although this isolated island archipelago is something of a boating paradise, it can also be an extremely hazardous place to have an offshore boating breakdown.

According to BoatUS. - the nation’s largest recreational boating association - there are a number of things all boaters should check at least once a year to prevent mishaps. The following are among the most important:

>> Check all through-hull fittings, seacocks, hoses, and clamps and replace as necessary.

>> Inspect outboard engine control cables, fuel lines and vent hoses for softness, swelling, brittleness, or cracking, all of which may indicate future failure.

>> Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps, and filters for leaks. All hose clamps should be snug and free of rust.

>> Examine cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks, and/or cracking. The hoses should fit snugly and be double-clamped.

>> Clean and tighten all electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Battery terminals should be clean and the cells should be filled to the proper level.

>> Check the expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers and replace or have serviced, as warranted.

>> Examine alcohol or propane stoves and remote fuel tanks for loose fittings and damaged hoses.

>> Inspect bilge pumps and float switches to make sure they are working properly.

>> Test any smoke, carbon monoxide, or bilge alarms.

>> Make sure you have properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for everyone aboard, including kids and pets.

And finally, ask for a free safety check from the local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron.

If you would like the complete safety checklist, visit the BoatUS Web site at http://www.BoatUS.com.