Boat Safety Basics

 

Freedom Boat Boats

Summer is here and with it, the boating season! Last week was also National Boat Safety Week. So let’s talk a bit about some of the boat safety requirements!

  • Life jackets – Personal Floatation Devices as they are officially called, please wear them! The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that a whopping 80% of all boating casualties could have been avoided if boaters had only worn lifejackets. Fashion is not a requirement here, safety is!
  • First Aid Kit – we always have one on board. It’s useful for situations ranging from a simple finger cut to the more disastrous ones.
  • Signaling devices – be safe and keep these on board. A flare gun is not all there is to it, though it’s very useful! You need both daytime and night signaling devices, like a sound horn, disaster flags and a flare gun. Make sure these are on board and working properly.
  • Marine VHF radio – this is important! Keep it on Channel 16. It’s how you signal for help in the case of an emergency. It’s your best shot of getting help in time or possibly saving a fellow boaters life if you hear their distress call. It’s also advisable to keep your cell phone with you, just in case.
  • Fire extinguisher – you never know what can happen on board. Maybe there’s a short circuit and something catches on fire. Or maybe the people you’re with are careless and accidently start a fire. Have one or even two on board at all times.

We are all looking forward to a great summer, but I ask you all to be safe while enjoying your time out on the water. If you don’t already own a boat, come on down to Freedom Boat Club, as your boats are waiting…

Portsmouth’s Must Visit Landmarks

Clubhouse

We started a list of our favorite fishing and sunbathing spots near Portsmouth. Then we started thinking about the best places for boating in Portsmouth and the best beaches and so on. Somehow I ended up writing about Portsmouth must visit landmarks, most of which are accessible by boat! Next, I will write about my favorite restaurants here.

  • Nubble Lighthouse – a famous American icon, officially known as the Cape Neddick Light Station. The Voyager spacecraft – that carries photographs of Earth’s most prominent man made structures and natural features – includes a picture of Nubble Light, alongside images of the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and others.
  • Peirce Island – located directly at Portsmouth’s South End, Peirce Island offers a picturesque view of Piscataqua River and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Furthermore, if you get bored you also have an outdoor pool, playground and boat launches!
  • Albacore Museum – The USS Albacore was the prototype for modern submarines of our times. It was constructed in Portsmouth in 1952 and since 1985 is has been given back to the people of Portsmouth, as a memorial museum.
  • Strawbery Banke – a 10-acre waterfront estate and museum was named by the first settlers in 1630 due to the abundance of the wild berries found on shores. You can spend your day exploring the grounds known for 400 years as Puddle Dock. Visit historic establishments and enjoy a day walking among the costumed role players or you can relax in the shade of award-winning period gardens.
  • Boon Island Lighthouse – at 133 feet, it’s the tallest lighthouse in both Maine and New England. You can really only see it by boat, as it is not open to the general public.

Of course, there is also the Great Bay Estuary and the Isles of Shoals, which we already covered. FBC members use our boats to visit most of these locations and you could too. Join now! Your boats are waiting

How to Choose the Perfect Boat for Your Needs

FBC Portsmouth, NH signature photo

There are so many options out there when it comes to boat styles, and each can only fit so many needs, that it has become harder and harder to pick just the right one. It’s amazing how much the industry has evolved and what it now offers us. So here are a few guidelines we recommend you follow when choosing the right boat for you:

Safety
This is a very important issue in boating and it should be your top concern at all times. First, think about what you’re planning to do with the boat and where you plan on using the boat. Are you going boating on a lake, a river or the ocean? Are you going to be bringing children with you? Could you potentially be out in rough seas? Are you going to trailer the boat? You need to pick a boat that is appropriately sized for what you wish to use it for and the conditions you could experience in the locations you expect to be boating. Which leads us to your first decision.

Style
This is the hardest decision and let me start off by saying that there is not one boat that can perfectly fit all of your needs. This decision really all depends on what you wish to be able to do with your boat the most and hopefully just making it work for the rest. Do you like to fish,cruise, or maybe both? Do you want to be able to sleep on the boat overnight? Do you want an inboard, outboard, or a combination of the two in an inboard-outboard? A center-console is the popular choice for fishermen, as they allow you to move about the entire boat but this leaves you openly exposed to the weather/sun. A walk-around will offer you a cuddy cabin if case you want to be able to get out of the elements, but you have to give up some of your ability to move around. If you are just looking to cruise, you could go with a bowrider, sport cruiser with a cuddy cabin, or a full cabin cruiser that has all of the amenities. The decision depends heavily on if you want to be able to overnight on the boat. The bowrider is the most spacious and is a lot of fun, the sport cruiser offers you the protection of the cabin while still being a performance boat, and the cabin cruiser offer the most comfort but you usually give up some of the performance when making this choice due to the increase in overall weight. Once you get through this decision, the rest are a breeze.

Size
This is an easy one. How many people do you plan on taking with you onboard? Think of how many of your family or friends you might be taking fishing or cruising. Obviously, the more people you wish to bring, the bigger the boat you are going to need and the more it will cost. If you are going to trailer the boat, you also needs to consider if your current vehicle can handle the weight of trailering the boat.

Horsepower
This is always a big debate, especially when young people are involved. There’s no doubt that it is fun to have a large engine or maybe even twin engines, but the bigger the engine, the higher the fuel consumption and maintenance fees. Are you willing to give up speed and performance for an economical ride or would you rather “pay to play”?

New or Used

A new boat is nice because, well, it is brand new and it comes with warranties that will protect you if you run into mechanical issues, but you should plan on keeping this boat for awhile as there is a very high rate of depreciation in the first couple years of ownership. Buying an older used boat can be a better deal, but now you are left without the protection of warranties and are at the risk of large expense if the boat does need repairs and I can tell you from experience it is not if, it is when.

Budget
All of these decisions translate into more or less money, so, while keeping in mind that safety comes first, you’ll have to prioritize the rest according to your needs and desires. Please also remember that buying the boat is only one part of your expense. There is also fees for the storage, insurance, maintenance, and repairs that are associated with ownership and these usually add up to more than your boat payment. I will cover these expenses more thoroughly in my next post.

Of course, if you’re not sure about which boat to pick or are second-guessing boat ownership, we can help you out. As a member of Freedom Boat Club, you will not need to buy a boat, as you will receive unlimited access of our entire fleet (variety of styles) which will allow you to pick a specific boat for each of your outings needs all for a fraction of owning just one. You will also not have to worry about the cleaning, maintenance, or storage costs as that is all included with your membership. FBC is your alternative to boat ownership. Your boat is waiting!

7 Free iPhone Boating Apps You Should Have

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There are some incredible iPhone boating apps out there. Some free, others rather expensive. Since last week we brought you the best boating apps for Android, all of them free, this week we’re focusing on iPhone apps:

1. Ship finder http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ship-finder-free/id324177409?mt=8
Using this app allows you to see live moving ships and share your sightings with friends over Facebook or Twitter. You can even bookmark your favourite locations. Ship Finder provides near real time “virtual radar”, it works by picking up AIS ship feeds used by all types of vessels, from the ones over 300 tons and increasingly smaller pleasure crafts. This technology is actually faster than radar and can be used directly for navigation.

2. Yacht weather http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yachting-weather/id371339359?mt=8
It’s a wonderful app that gives you the 3 day sea weather prediction. The app automatically detects your specific location, so you can receive precise sea weather predictions. Alternatively you can set the location you’re interested in via a single click on the map tool or by manual input. The Weather Data is based on WRF and Wave Watch III weather models and updated four times a day. This way you get the latest info about storm risks, wind speed, wave heights and directions, temperature, air humidity, precipitation risk and much more.

3. Beacon http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beacon/id295437462?mt=8
You can use this app to mark the spots you wish to return to. For example if you’ve planned on going fishing to a certain location, but on your way there you spotted a nice beach you’d like to return to later. Simply drop a beacon there and you’ll know where to go back to the place that caught your attention.

4. Whale alert http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/whale-alert-ship-strike-reduction/id511707112?mt=8
The app is originally designed so that boats can effectively steer clear from whales and protect them. Whilst it can still be used for this purpose, a more fun application is whale watching! See recommended routes, areas-to-be-avoided and near real-time warnings of the presence of North Atlantic right whales in shipping lanes derived from automatic passive acoustic buoys.

5. Nav Lights http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nav-lights/id386175189?mt=8
This is a good one if you’re trying to obtain your Coast Guard Captain’s License. It helps you learn how to identify ships by their lights.

6. myLite Flashlight http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mylite-flashlight/id284885844?mt=8
It’s the kind of app that you need to have. You never know when it comes in handy! Maybe you can’t find your flashlight, or you don’t have it on you. It’s really easy to use and it’s a safe backup.

7. Knot Guide (Free Knots) http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/knot-guide-free-knots/id399947682?mt=8
Like boating? You must know your knots! There aren’t any exceptions. This light app teaches you how to tie 17 categories worth of knots: from bends and binding knots to sailing and stopper knots.

Of course, there are many more apps, some of them pretty impressive and elaborated. Now that we’ve got the free apps “out of the way”, get ready for an all time top iPhone boating apps, this time with per pay apps included. We weren’t planning on splitting the iPhone apps in two articles, but there are just too many! So make sure you install and test some of these first and let us know what you think. And remember, your boat is waiting

New Survey Invites Boat Owners to Inform Ocean Management in the Northeast

The FBC boating community is taking shape! We’re happy to publish this informative guest post from Dave Kellam – Communications Manager at www.SeaPlan.org. Boaters, watch your mailboxes! 

Starting this spring, SeaPlan is partnering with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, the boating industry, the University of Massachusetts and state coastal management programs to conduct the 2012 Northeast Recreational Boater Survey that will document saltwater recreational boating routes and define boaters’ contribution to state and regional economies. In May, 68,000 randomly selected boat owners from ME, NH, MA, RI, CT and NY will receive an invitation in the mail requesting participation in the survey. Each month, researchers will ask participating boaters to log onto a mapping website where they can draw their last boating trip on an interactive navigation chart and include information about fishing, wildlife viewing or other activities they did during their trip. Boaters will also be asked how much money they spent on various boating-related activities. Sponsors have provided incentive prizes for participants, including a grand prize of $5,000. Boaters that do not receive an invitation in the mail are encouraged to participate in a separate volunteer survey.

Survey results will help coastal planners consider recreational boating activity during ocean planning and when reviewing proposals for new coastal and offshore development projects. Boaters and the boating industry can also use the survey results to show the importance of recreational boating and to inform business planning. This survey will build off the successes of the Massachusetts Recreational Boater Survey which thousands of boaters participated in during the 2010 boating season. See the complete list of partners and participate in the volunteer survey at www.neboatersurvey.org.

Five free boating apps for Android you should have

Boating weather Android App

Most of us have become so accustomed to our smartphones, we expect them to do anything we want. Even help us with boating! Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Actually, quite a few. And the best part is: some really good apps are even free. So here are our top picks for Android. Not to worry, we’ll soon follow-up with some really great iPhones apps as well!

1. TideApp

I use this to check current tide conditions. It also shows daily highs and lows with their accompanying times. You can even check the tides in advance, if you want to plan future trips.

2. Boat ramps
I use this when I’m on vacation, mostly in places I’m not so familiar with. You can use it to locate and get directions to boat ramps across the U.S.

3. Boating weather
This app uses the weather forecast to determine if the weather is good enough for boating or not. It focuses on weather reports for 6 am to 6 pm, when you are more likely to be boating. It will either display a boat icon if the weather is fine, or a house icon, meaning it’s best if you stay home.

4. Boat logger
It’s a easy to use cruise log and vessel info app. You can record your trips and keep track of your whereabouts, water depth, wind, fuel consumption.

5. Radar now
You can use Radar Now instead of your weather app, to see in real time, if a storm in on the way. It provides an animated radar image with information from the National Weather Service, downloaded directly from their servers, so the info you’re getting is always the latest.

So keep safe and keep track of everything going on around you. Boat safety is of top importance and anything that can help for the ride is most welcome. Here’s a bonus app I use when I don’t have my flashlight handy: Color Flashlight. Hope it all helps and remember, your boat is waiting!

Let me tell you about my 600 boats…

couple_boating_freedomboatclubnh

I like to brag about the 600 boats I have and the 120 people cleaning, maintaining and winterizing. The boats are located all over the United States. I live in NH and spend most of my time boating in NH and MA. I also travel to warmer climates when it is colder, recently I was down in FL and one day took out a flats boat and fished with my son. The next day I took out a new deck boat with 2 families and spent the day at some of the FL west coast beaches. When I returned both days, I filled up the boat with gas and dropped it off at the dock, deck hands waiting for my return. Not sure I will ever take those boats out again, maybe I will but there are so many other boats to choose from.

You might think only the wealthy can afford all of these luxuries, what I did not mention was that I don’t own these boats, I just use them. I’m a Freedom Boat Club member. Freedom’s slogan is to “own the water not the boat” and after 20+ years of owning different types and sizes of boats, I know how much a boat costs to own and maintain.

Being a member of Freedom Boat Club allows me to try out different types of boats, maybe a day of fishing with my son and his buddies in a 23′ Sail Fish center console or a day of cruising with the family in a 28′ Rinker Captiva or tubing, wake boarding and water skiing on one of the many deck boats.

I’m leaving the maintenance to the professionals, storage is assured and I don’t have to worry about insurance. I simply reserve a boat of my choice and when I get to the dock, it’s ready to go. With over 60 clubs that I can take advantage of nation wide and the small monthly fee I pay, I really do not think I will ever go back to owning a boat again.