8 Boating Safety Tips from Sea Tow for Lobster Mini-Season
- Prep your boat before you launch it. We can’t believe the number of people who ignore the boat ramp’s staging area and wait until their boat is on the ramp to load it with their gear, wasting the time of all the other boaters waiting to launch.
- Bring a chart for the local waters or load it into your chartplotter so you know the boundaries of marine sanctuaries and other waters where lobster fishing is prohibited, even during Mini-Season. The chart also will show you the areas where it is safe to anchor.
- Stay out of “skinny” water. The Keys are notorious for their shallow flats and coral reefs that can be located miles offshore. Watch the depths on your chart or chartplotter and keep an eye out for rocks and other obstacles.
- Steer clear of divers and snorkelers. By Florida law, boats operating at any speed faster than idle must keep at least 300 feet away from a vessel displaying a “diver down” flag (red with a diagonal white stripe).
- Watch out for divers where you don’t expect them! Some boaters don’t own a dive flag or forget to put one up while they have people underwater hunting lobster. During Mini-Season, divers and snorkelers will pop up in main navigation channels and other unexpected places. Ask a crew member to keep watch on the waters around your boat; wearing Polarized sunglasses, if possible, in order to see through the glare.
- Don’t drop the hook on a coral reef. Your anchor could destroy a beautiful natural resource that was thousands of years in the making. Tie up to a mooring buoy (if you are early enough to find one) or anchor on sand.
- Keep track of the tides. Download the Sea Tow App (www.seatow.com/app) before you head out on the water. This free mobile app for iPhones and Android smartphones has a detailed tide-finder function that will display the local tide chart right on your phone. This can help you to avoid putting divers in the water during the strong currents created by changing tides.
- Check the weather forecast frequently. In July, thunderstorms often pop up in the afternoon along the Florida coast. You also can use the Sea Tow App’s weather function to check the forecast and receive any weather alerts for the area. If you need help on the water, the App will also let you call Sea Tow by simply swiping a finger on the screen.
Happy hunting!For more information on Sea Tow Services International, Inc., please visit www.seatow.com.