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All about boats: From shipshape to safety and everything in between!

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Spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s nearly time for long days on the water on Lake Martin. Before we know it, we’ll be catching rays on summer days, skiing with friends, and enjoying sunsets at various restaurants – all by way of our boats. Boats provide hours of entertainment and fun and are an integral part of Lake Martin living, especially for the Lake Martin Team. However, before loading your boat into the water this year, we thought we’d remind everyone of a few boating basics:

Get your boating license.

Residents seeking a boating license can go to their local Department of Public Safety Driver’s License Examining Office. There, you can apply for a license and pay the appropriate fees. Once those tasks are completed, you will take the appropriate forms to your county probate or License Commissioner’s office to have “V” class placed on your driver’s license. Only residents over the age of twelve can apply for a boating license, and once they pass their exam, they must have a licensed adult 21 years-old or older in the boat with them at all times. This is to ensure that if anything was to go wrong, an adult (with a boating license) would be present to takeover the watercraft. Once a teenager reaches fourteen, they are able to operate a water vehicle on their own without supervision.

Make sure everything is in good working order.

There’s a reason the term “shipshape” has nautical origins. The word is based on the fact that sailors were expected to keep their quarters neat and secure should a ship experience any rough waters. While we don’t have to worry about rough water like sailors who have gone before us, we do have to plan and prepare for each season. Before launching your boat, ensure that everything is in good working order. Check your gas gauges. Secure a fire extinguisher. Give your horn a whistle. Try your navigation lights. Once your boat is in good order, it should be smooth sailing.

Keep safety at the forefront.

We cannot stress enough the importance of having a personal floatation device for every passenger on your boat. Per Alabama law, you are required to have at least one dedicated life jacket on board per passenger. Remember a PFD can save a life, but not if it’s buried under other equipment, stored away, or not being used. Here are a few other PFD rules to keep in mind:

  • Children under 8 years old must be wearing a life jacket while in the open portion of a boat.
  • Anyone being towed (think skis, tubes, and kneeboards) must be wearing a life jacket.
  • Anyone on a personal watercraft (like a Sea-Doo) must be wearing a life jacket.
  • If you are boating alone, you should be wearing a life jacket.

The Lake Martin Team wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable boating season on Lake Martin!

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