Apart from your earliest memories of boating, fishing and being around the water, the memories made with your children will be some of the happiest memories you'll have. So here at TrophyFisher we've put together some of the best tips for boating with children and family to make sure you know all the tricks. This way, you can focus on having a great time on the water knowing you've prepared yourself and your family for all of the challenges that come from being on the water.
Staying ahead of the weather
Other than operator error, in 2014 the highest identifiable cause of boating accidents was weather and environmental factors according to the US Coast Guard.
This means that by making good decisions on the water, and staying in the know about changing weather conditions, you can eliminate the two largest risk factors and make sure that your memories of the water continue to be happy and lasting ones. Easy steps to follow include knowing the latest weather forecast when you head out and having onboard radio or satellite weather forecasts. However, forecasts can be wrong, and weather reports are typically not provided for your exact position. That's why the key is to stay alert and know how to identify changing weather conditions that are happening where you are now.
So we've summarized some of the best tips about how to predict the weather at sea.
Know your clouds
Stretched or wispy clouds accompanied by visible movement can indicate high winds and changes in pressure. This is usually a sign that the weather will be changing in the coming hours or days. In isolation, this is a good indicator that you should raise your awareness level.
Be cool under pressure
Most boat instrument panels will include a barometer to monitor the atmospheric pressure. If you don't have one, it may be a good idea to buy one and keep it around the boat. Pressure changes may be the best tool you have in predicting the changing whether since wind, is simply the movement of air resulting from differences in pressure over distances. When the pressure starts to change, you need to be prepared for a change in the weather to follow. If things already look gloomy, it's a sign your day may be done.
Flee like a bird
Another key tip we love is to pay attention to the animals around you. Animals are keenly aware of, and sensitive to changes in pressure and leading weather indicators. They seek shelter and stable areas when poor weather is approaching so simply put, if the birds, insects, and other marine life are in open water and behaving like they don't have a care in the world, then that's a good sign. If animals are scarce or tucked away, you may want to trust their instincts and move closer to shore where you can react quickly.
Proper devices and accessories
We all know that angler that refuses to fish with anything other than their trusty, rusty spinner bait they've used their whole life and hey, tradition is great but we all need to know when technology is obsolete...right?
Other than the standard safety equipment required by your local authority, when it comes to being prepared, here are a few devices you just can't go without:
An onboard battery charger is a must. No one wants to be stranded at sea even on a nice day. If the weather turns things can get serious in a hurry. So whether you want to backup your battery or make sure the music doesn't stop this is a must in our books.
Another must have from our point of view is a VHF (very high frequency) radio which is the standard of communication for emergency communications and weather alerts used by the United States and Canadian Coast Guards. This radio allows for mayday calls to reach the right authorities and other boaters in a prioritized fashion. Outbound communications are prohibited unless you have a radio operator's certificate or you are issuing an emergency mayday call. This device is the best insurance policy for yourself and your family bar none.
From a practical perspective, when it comes to having kids on the boat (or anywhere for that matter) we know that they get bored easily...like really easily. Given that we want our kids to embrace fishing we need to recognize they won't be patient enough to hold a rod for hours on end so if you don't already have one, you NEED to invest in a rod holder. This will allow kids to be kids, to get distracted, to stare off at the water and, most importantly, to understand the thrill when they hear "fish on!" and the action starts.
Learn how to read the language of the waterways
There's lots to know as a boater but for most of us, the rules of the waterways are fairly simple. Here's a great boiled-down version of key markers that you should always have fresh in your mind.
Knowing these common signs and teaching them to your kids when you come across them is a great way to stay safe in open water.
And...as always being responsible with (or avoiding) alcohol
It really goes without saying, but one of the easiest ways to ensure a safe and memorable day is to get home safely. In order to do that, you've got to be alert, focused and capable so if alcohol makes it on to your boat, take care to know your limit and enjoy responsibly.