You can’t have fun on the water if you can’t see what you’re doing, and you can’t stay safe unless you’re seen by others. The best form of boating safety is a combination of equipment that won’t let you down, the good judgement to bring it along in the first place, and knowing how and when to use it.
People who don’t hunt or fish have a hard time understanding why those of us who do are willing to get up long before the sun rises and come home long after it sets. We endure uncomfortable or downright scary conditions, all for a chance to outwit some critter obviously better-equipped to spend its life outdoors. While in pursuit of adventure in a boat it’s important to respect the three things that have the most potential for peril: darkness, cold weather, and the water itself.
Most boaters think about life jackets as the key element of water safety, but when things turn ugly on the ocean, lake, or in the marsh, PFD’s are only part of the equation. Good lighting is critical for getting rescued if you’re stranded, but it’s also important for avoiding accidents in the first place. Whether you’re trolling for salmon on a fifty-thousand-dollar cabin cruiser, or puttering through the cattails in a johnboat covered in camo spray paint, it’s important (and required by every state I can think of) to have fully operational bow and stern lights so other boaters can see you. But what about getting those fishing rods set up in the pitch dark, or feverishly untangling that knotted mass of duck decoys just in time for legal shooting? You’ll need a good light, preferably one that’s waterproof and can take a beating. It’s no good to store it in your deepest, darkest gear box — and you don’t want to trip over it — but be sure to keep it in a handy place on deck.
Although you might never mistake a mallard for the drum-beating Energizer Bunny, you might want to pack along the same technology that makes the little pink guy keep going and going and going . . . Like the Trailfinder series of LED headlamps. These little lifesavers provide up to 19 hours (depending on the model) of hands-free illumination, with different settings for saving power. And when you really need to bring the sunbeams into your boat, Energizer offers three different hand-held Night Strike models, engineered with hunters and fishermen in mind. The Swivel Light version has 13 light modes, swiveling head, and can operate at full power for up to five hours — and they’re waterPROOF, not just water “resistant.” And you’ll really appreciate Night Strike’s “Discrete Switching” when total silence matters most.
The Radio Crank Light, also from Energizer, is something every sea-worthy vessel should have onboard. It comes with NiMH rechargeable batteries, and an ingenious backup system; This baby will provide 10 minutes of run time for each minute you spend winding it up. In addition to the four bright white LED’s, there’s a red LED for night vision, an AM/FM radio to keep you tuned into the latest weather reports, plus a 115 decibel siren for safety.
A great feature found in many Energizer lighting products, like the 4 LED Flashlight, is the ability to operate the device using AA, AAA or C batteries. This model even comes with a whistle and a safety checklist printed right on the handle.
Have fun on the water this year and stay safe!