143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 3 X Vessel Operation

GENERAL RULES: OPERATING A BOAT To operate a boat safely, the owner and operator should know what the vessel can do, as well as the general rules for operating boats. The first part of this section presents information that applies to many forms of boating. The second part of the section covers more specific information for water skiing, sailing and paddling. Before Leaving the Dock Check the predicted weather and water conditions. Avoid boating in heavy winds, lightning storms, hard rain and thick fog. Make sure the predicted conditions match your boating skills and equipment. Take a portable radio with you to receive updated weather forecasts. Find out about local hazards by talking to marina operators, other boaters and marine law officers. They can keep you from running aground or hitting hidden obstacles. ƒ Check that you have a backup power source and bailing equipment. A backup power source may include paddles, oars or a backup engine. ƒ Check to see that a Coast Guard-approved life jacket is on board for every passenger. ƒ Check to see that all gear is stowed in its proper place. ƒ Check the capacity plate for the maximum number of people, maximum weight capacity, and maximum horsepower recommended for the boat. The capacity plate is located near the operator’s seat. Make sure you don’t put more people or weight on board than it says on the plate. An overloaded boat is difficult to control. ƒ Check the overall condition of the boat, including the engine, hull and structure. ƒ Check that all passengers know where life jackets and safety equipment are stored. You should show passengers how to use all the equipment. ƒ Check to make sure your passengers know what to do in case of an emergency. Show them if they don’t know. Pre-Departure Checklist ƒ Check to see if the boat’s lights and horn work properly. ƒ Check all necessary safety equipment.


If the vessel or PWC no longer has a capacity plate, the operator should check the owners’ manual and state laws to know how many passengers can safely be loaded onto the craft. The person-capacity of a boat can be calculated by multiplying the boat length by the boat width, and dividing the answer by 15. The length of a motorboat is mea sured from end-to-end along the centerline on the out-side of the hull. The measurement does not include outboard motors, brackets, or other attachments, such as a swim mer’s ladder. Boat length and width are measured in feet and fractional answers are rounded down to the next number of persons. Capacity = Length x Width 15


If a boat is 16 ft. long and 6 ft. wide, how many passengers can it carry?

Answer: 6


California Course for Safe Boating

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