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Set Sail for Safe and Fun Winter Boating

boat showIn Florida, we are lucky to enjoy boating as a year-round sport. However, with winter comes changing marine conditions, such as increased wind speeds and decreased water temperatures. Whether you are a paddler, a sailor, or a motor boater, it is important to be prepared with proper safety equipment, as well as awareness of your surroundings. Read below for helpful tips, including details on this weekend’s boat show in St. Petersburg, Florida!

  • Boater safety courses offer a good introduction to boating for novice boaters and refresher for more experienced boaters. In order to operate a motorboat of ten (10) horsepower or greater, Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1988 to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
  • Carelessness and inattention are the leading causes of boating accidents in Florida. Life Jackets are required by law to be on your vessel. It is best to select a comfortable life jacket for your needs that you are likely to wear regularly. Be sure to have the necessary safety equipment for your vessel size and type- a complete list can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.
  • Boaters are encouraged to take the Clean Boater Pledge and educate other boaters on the importance of protecting the environment they enjoy. By adopting pollution prevention measures, Florida Clean Boaters can take pride in knowing they are doing their part to keep Florida waterways.
  • The 37th Annual St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the largest boat show on the Gulf Coast, is set to sail into the Duke Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., from Thursday, Dec. 4 through Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. In addition to the large selection of exhibits at this year’s show, there will be an array of special events and fun and educational activities, including MARINE SEMINARS and the youth fishing clinics presented by the non-profit Hook The Future. Military personnel get free admission with an ID, and Kids 15 and under are Free!
  • A wide variety of websites and mobile applications keep us updated on weather conditions. Below are some of my favorite weather websites. It is good to check the forecast several days in advance, but also be sure to check the most-up-to-date conditions immediately before heading out.