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Is a boat on your holiday wish list? 5 tips for a successful inaugural voyage

Posted December 18, 2017

Step 1: Make sure the vessel’s registration is up-to-date

If you’re hoping to be gifted with a boat this holiday season, the Arizona Game and Fish Department wants your first outing to be safe and go off without a hitch. There are a number of steps to take before hitting the water for the first time in your new watercraft. Here are five tips to a successful inaugural voyage as well as best practices for veteran boaters:

  1. Register your watercraft. Make sure the vessel’s registration is current before heading out. It’s one of the most important requirements needed to operate a boat on Arizona waterways. Those needing to renew their watercraft registration can do so online at www.azgfd.gov/boating.
  2. Take a boating safety education course. AZGFD offers free courses every month for both boaters and those who prefer paddlesports. Whether you received a pontoon boat or kayak this winter, learn about safe boating techniques and how to respond in the event of an emergency by completing a hands-on safety course. Class information and schedules are posted online at www.azgfd.gov/boating.
  3. Always wear a life jacket. Life jackets aren’t just a good idea, they are required by state law for anyone 12 years old and younger when the boat is underway. There also must be at least one life jacket available for everyone aboard. In addition, remember that as the weather cools down, so does the water temperature. Cold water immersion and hypothermia can occur in water as cool as 70 degrees, and even in a healthy person, cold-water immersion can impact muscle movement, breathing and heart rate. Wearing a life jacket will keep a person’s head above water and body on the surface in the event that he or she falls into the lake or river.
  4. Do not drink alcohol or use drugs while operating a watercraft. Just as it’s illegal to operate a vehicle on the roadway under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s also illegal to do so on the water. Alcohol is a top factor in recreational boater deaths — it was a contributing factor in three of the five boating fatalities in Arizona last year.
  5. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Make sure you have the proper supplies onboard including a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit and marine radio. In addition, leave a float plan with family and friends outlining where you’re going and when you plan to return.

AZGFD’s website aims to be a resource for those who enjoy boating and paddlesports on Arizona’s lakes and waterways. Become familiar with laws and regulations — and sign up for a safety education course — online.

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