Friday, May 15, 2009

13 Lucky Charms for when the park ranger pulls alongside your boat

Most boats in New Mexico must carry

(1) PFD/lifejacket, one per person, properly sized, in good condition, immediately accessible, USCG approved, Type V special-purpose units must be worn/used according to labeling to be counted (all boats), children under 13 and people on small craft (jet ski, canoe, kayak, raft) and skiers/tubers/wakeboarders must wear theirs

(2) throwable flotation device (all boats)

(3) whistle or sound producing device
(bell on 26-footers and up, hand- or power-operated horns on 26-footers, power-operated horns on 40-footers and up)
(New Mexico doesn't have federally controlled waters where visual distress signals such as flares would be required; on federal waters smaller craft are not required to carry day signals; night signals are required for all craft operating on federal waters between sunset and sunrise)

(4) lights (display as needed, requirements vary by boat size, type, use)

(5) rope (at least as long as boat, running rigging doesn't count)

(6) bailing bucket (or hand bilge pump)

(7) oar or paddle (exemption for some very large craft with high freeboard)

(8) backfire flame arrestor (gas inboard-outboards or inboards)

(9) fire extinguisher (boats with enclosed engine, fuel, or storage spaces or permanent fuel tanks)

(10) ventilation (vessels with enclosed machinery spaces)

(11) registration numbers on bow, registration sticker ("validation decal") on port bow (specific size, shape, contrast, placement requirements)
(New Mexico motorboats must be titled, but the title isn't something that has to be on the boat.) For purposes of registration, sailboats sails count as "mechanical propulsion" in New Mexico; not many people realize that sailboats over ten feet are required to be registered (but not windsurfers, canoes, or kayaks)

(12) certificate of number (wallet card)

(13) boater safety certification card (in NM, for operators born after 1 January 1989) For purposes of the education requirement, a sailboat is a motorboat; an unsupervised young operator needs to have a card.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, NASBLA, doesn't actually print the booklets for the boater safety classes and rules digests. What it actually does is write National Boating Education Standards and promote uniform boating regulations. NASBLA works with state boating enforcement agencies, the US Coast Guard and Auxiliary, National Safe Boating Council, and other organizations.

The standards define the minimum topics that must be covered in a NASBLA-approved boating safety course. The vast majority of US states and territories follow NASBLA standards.

An example of a standard (from the 2007 requirements) is
"Standard 6.5 - Fire Emergency Preparedness
The course will describe procedures to prevent and respond to boating fires such as proper use of fire extinguishers and basic knowledge of fire suppression principles."

The states publish their own law digests and arrange with publishers such as Boat Ed (Dallas, TX) or Empire Outdoor Publishing (Seattle, WA) to print the boating safety booklets or texts.

The states and publishers may add local or additional material to their courses and may present and illustrate the material as they see fit -- just so long as it gets covered.

Fire extinguisher requirements can get tricky; besides length and type of propulsion, the presence of enclosed passenger, fuel, combustible storage, or machinery spaces will trigger a requirement.

Other useful stuff for kayakers might include dry bags and helmets for some whitewater kayakers.

Skiers need mirrors or observers and skier flags (an observer and not just a mirror is required for PWCs, which also must have seats on board for the operator, observer, and skier(s)); divers need diver flags.

Boats 26 feet or over on federal waters are required to display the "garbage disposal placard" and "discharge of oil prohibited" placard and ocean-going boats 40-feet and over must have a written "waste management plan".

Sailboat racers may have additional items required by their one-design class equipment rules, local yacht club or regatta rules, or be subject to offshore racing equipment rules. For example, Etchells sailboats have class rules calling for two paddles and two bailing buckets plus towline, anchor line (both lines of specified minimum diameter and length), and anchor/chain of a specified minimum weight.

Operators of small craft, such as single-seat jet skis, might wonder what they're doing carrying a fire extinguisher or throwable PFD. An answer is that they can use those safety items to help someone else who gets in trouble; it might take more than one fire extinguisher to put out a fire.

Fire extinguishers and flares are tricky to use. Unfortunately, few people ever get a (legal, safe, supervised) opportunity for practice, especially with flares, which can be frighteningly dangerous if deployed incorrectly. Got welder's gloves? Fire extinguishers have a very short discharge time (often on the order of say 15 seconds) and are picky about being used correctly in order to actually get a fire put out for good (all together, class: pull, aim [at the base of the fire], squeeze, and sweep). Boat US has some good information on its website for these items.



At 4:16 PM, May 15, 2009, Blogger bonnie said...

Hey, looks familiar!

Sea kayakers sometimes need helmets too. I would say "but probably not in New Mexico" but I should quit making these silly assumptions about your state!

Thanks for the comments. I'm really curious about all boats carrying a throwable flotation device - what sort do the kayaks out there carry? Awkward to carry a ring on your deck. I guess one of those square seat-cushion types could be manageable.

Loved Carol Anne's mention of how confusing it is to the vessel safety check people when your boat is thirty feet long & yet has no motor. Talk about flouting expectations!

At 9:42 PM, May 15, 2009, Blogger Pat said...

Throwable PFD -- Many kayakers and even law enforcers may not be aware of a requirement. It's stated in the boating safety course, but I'd want to check the "cite book" (law digest) or New Mexico administrative code to make sure it's a real law.

Helmets and kayakable waters, as best I can recall --
The Taos Box, on the upper Rio Grande, can be around Class III - V -ish, depending upon river stage.
The Pilar Race course, not far from Taos, is gentler, more class I - II.
The Rio Chama between El Vado Lake and Abiquiu Lake is a nice, scenic, overnight wilderness trip, class I-II.
Plus lots of rivers, lakes, and coves.

I have a couple of eight-foot plastic Perception kayaks that are the greatest fun. But, I don't pretend to be any kind of serious kayaker and have never done an eskimo roll or traveled real whitewater or anything like that. Occasionally I'll play in the whitecaps when the wind gets up on the lake and that's it for adventure.

I've also used the kayak as a "mini work barge" to round up plastic-encased Rhino marina floats that escaped from the Heron Lake Marina.


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