Turn on your running lights at night
I was fishing the late night full moon bite last Saturday and something occurred that inspired me to write this week's article. I was running the lake to head to another location and keeping my eyes alert, as you never want to be surprised. I was on plane with the boat, but thankfully not running wide open, as that would have created the timing necessary to run into a pontoon that was on the water with no lights! It scared me and made me angry. I yelled for them to put lights on (half expecting they were on the water with a pontoon that didn't have them) and then they turned them on!
They see me coming and didn't have lights on or turn them on? Crazy! I suspect alcohol impairment and that is a whole other boating safety issue and concern.
Keeping your navigation and anchor lights on at night is not for you, it is so the other guy can see you! This has happened several times to me over the years. If you have been guilty of this, stop it before someone gets injured or killed.
This close call is a reminder of several other very preventable safety concerns. Just a couple weeks ago a boat was run into by another boat during daylight hours. Thankfully nobody was injured. One boat was totaled and a person did end up in the water, but was able to get back to a boat safely. This crash happened because the driver's vision was obstructed by a passenger riding in the bow seat.
This is a crash, not an accident. Almost everybody that has owned a tiller boat has done this a time or two. It is time to stop this practice if you run a tiller boat. It is not just unsafe due to the vision obstruction, but it is unsafe for the rider, as a boat is always at risk for hitting an unseen obstruction in the water.
Boats in the area have hit submerged trees, rocks, water skis, run away dock sections, and many other water surprises.
On-water risks are not the only risks with boating. Trailoring a boat to and from the lake needs to be about safety also. Make sure your trailer is appropriate for the boat you are hauling. It is scary to be behind someone trailoring a big boat on a too small, rickety old trailer. We have all been behind that guy before! Make sure you have the proper ball size for the trailer hitch, trailer bearings and tires are in good shape, your safety chain and boat straps are connected.
If you own a boat and travel with it you will encounter problems at some time. Preventative maintenance saves a lot of time, hassle, and money in the long run.
Oh, by the way, we did catch some nice walleyes pulling crank baits in the moonlight. The weather was beautiful and I didn't let the close call wreck the evening.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)