Safety doesn?t interfere with fun
Written by Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter   
Saturday, 28 May 2005 19:00
Despite the holiday?s origins, many people think of the Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial beginning of summer.

Weather permitting, thousands of boaters will set forth across the state?s 15,000 lakes and rivers. Setting sail does not guarantee everyone?s safe return. Last year, 24 people died in Wisconsin from boating accidents, and at least five people have died this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

About half of those fatalities involved alcohol, and in many cases people were not wearing life jackets.

?I don?t see a whole lot of people wearing their life jackets,? said Ryan Volenburg, a marine warden with the DNR. ?And if you don?t have them on, you?re probably not going to get them on (if something happens).?

According to the North American Safe Boating Campaign, 86 percent of the 703 people who died in recreational boating accidents in 2003 were not wearing life jackets.

Children are required to wear life jackets on many bodies of water, and anyone boating and drinking is subject to a fine of at least $429 for the first offense.

The key is to be prepared for any situation that might be experienced on the water, according to the DNR.

State laws require a wearable, U. S. Coast Guard approved PFD (personal flotation device) of the proper size for each person on board, an approved fire extinguisher for boats with any enclosed compartments or a false floor, boat navigation lights and proper registration.

While not required, flares, maps and other emergency supplies are also recommended.

Emergency items and those that make a few weeks on the water a bit more comfortable are all found aboard Jim Haydock?s Cape Dory 27, the Windhover.

?We have all the conveniences of home ? in a very tiny box,? he said.

Haydock, of Oshkosh, calls the Manitowoc Marina his homeport for the summer. He begins work on the boat about mid-May, but doesn?t think about taking it into the water until it?s ready.

?It?s the little things that take so much time,? he said, and mentioned oiling the woodwork, tuning the rigging, de-winterizing the engine, and painting the bottom of the boat, a yearly ritual.

If Haydock?s commitment to getting the boat ready for the summer?s sailing seems extensive, so is his preparation for safety.

Each year he gets an up-to-date fire extinguisher and flares. He has a GPS, marine band radio and a cell phone, but he doesn?t place all his faith in these items.

?You can?t always trust electrical instruments all the time,? he said, adding that he and his wife, Victoria, also carry charts, dead reckoning equipment, safety harnesses and storm suits. And, of course, they carry life jackets at all times.

Why the precaution?

Haydock said he and his wife have had several ?white knuckle? experiences in the past few decades, and he isn?t willing to take any unnecessary risks.

?The seas can kick up from 2- to 3-foot waves to 8-foot waves in no time,? he said. ?This boat only moves at six knots.?

 
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