Put Your Boat In The Spotlight

When we head out for our boating activities many of us have fun and sun on our mind. It is important however to always have safe boating experiences, so though this may be the last thing that comes to mind when you’re packing your cooler, fishing poles and sunscreen but we want to ensure you have a few safeguards in your back pocket. We have included the low down on a new law coming May 2017 that ensures another safe step for our Minnesota boaters. And to make sure you are not stuck on the lake waving down another boater we have included information that can save you from being stuck on your own boat island in the middle of the lake.

Startribune.com gives us the need to know information on Sophia’s Law. The law mandates that any motorboat with an “enclosed accommodation area” — which includes sleeping areas, galleys with sinks, and toilet compartments — must have a hard-wired, marine-certified carbon monoxide detector by next May 1, 2017. Those boaters also must post three warning stickers about carbon monoxide poisoning. Other motorboats that have “an enclosed occupancy space” — smaller areas into which a person might enter — won’t be required to have detectors but will still have to have the stickers.

7-year-old Sophia Baechler, died October 2015 on Lake Minnetonka when carbon monoxide leaked from a hole in the boat’s exhaust pipe. While some new boats already come with the detectors, owners of older boats will have to retrofit them. Portable or home carbon monoxide detectors won’t meet the rule.

Minnesota, ranks No. 1 in the nation for most boats per capita, and has more than 540,000 motorboats, according to dnr.state.mn.us. The DNR estimates that this new law will affect about 45,000 boats, and will mail the stickers and distribute them at licensing centers before they’re required. Boaters who don’t follow the rules will get a warning, then a citation. The law requires that all boating safety courses include the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, which DNR classes already do.

Boating can be all fun and games if done safely by taking simple precautions such as the carbon monoxide detector in the law above. This also requires maintenance which can prevent the unforeseen from happening. Boatsafe.com says just a little TLC and preventive maintenance could prevent bobbing around like a cork and getting pounded by waves.

If you are not a mechanic, get a reliable one and start every season with a professional tune-up. You should have the mechanic test the spark, run a compression test, pressure test the lower unit, check the seals and water pump, test the warning alarms and, in general, go over the motor in such a manner as to eliminate most causes of breakdown. After you have had your annual check-up there are many things that you can do to help assure that you make it through the season without being towed home.

After every outing, flush out the engine. To flush the engine you will need a set of "rabbit ears" (two flexible rubber seals connected with a metal clamp). Simply slip this apparatus onto the lower unit where the water is picked up and attach a garden hose. Start up the engine and let the water pump do the rest. (Be sure to stay clear of the prop and make sure no one tries to shift into gear)