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Coldwater Boating Safety Tips: Be Prepared

Boat at the Canal

COLUMBUS, OH – The swamping and capsizing of a small boat resulting in occupants being unexpectedly immersed in frigid water poses a serious threat to boaters and anglers getting out on the water this time of year as water temperatures slowly begin to warm.  The best way to survive a cold water immersion and guard against hypothermia and drowning is to properly wear a life jacket and be dressed for cold water temperatures instead of warmer air temperatures, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft.

A few things anglers and boaters can do to be prepared for outings on the water is to wear an approved life jacket or inflatable vest.  This keeps a person afloat should they fall off a boat or a boat capsizes.  The second tip is to wear protective clothing, such as synthetics, wool or polypropylene that help reduce the loss of body heat when immersed in cold water.  A third safety tip is to ensure that boats are properly loaded with people and gear before launching on the water to reduce the chance of swamping and capsizing.

More cold water and other boating safety tips are available online at www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft.

The Division of Watercraft reports that among 15 fatal boating accidents last year, none of the victims were found to be wearing a life jacket or vest.  In seven of the accidents, life jackets and vest were not aboard the boats as required by state and federal laws.

The ODNR Division of Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating and scenic rivers programs.  The agency oversees watercraft registration and titling operations, provides funding to local communities for education, enforcement and boating access facilities, educates the public and enforces boating laws on Ohio’s waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site atohiodnr.com.

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Buying, Registering and Titling a Used Boat in Ohio

Fishing boat
Image via Wikipedia

COLUMBUS, OH – Finding a boat to fit your needs may mean purchasing a used boat instead of a new boat. When buying a used boat from a private seller, whether it’s your neighbor or through a newspaper or online ad, it’s important to ensure your purchase is legal, which allows for proper registration and titling.

Whatever type of used boat you are buying, the same general rules apply. Follow these tips and you can buy a used boat with confidence, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft.

Most importantly, know the titling and registration laws for boats not only in the state where you live (www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft), but also the state where the boat is coming from. Know if the boat/outboard motor is required to have a title, because if you buy a boat that should have a title but doesn’t, you likely won’t be able to register it. All out-of-state boats, boats that do not have a 12-character hull ID, and boats without a proper title need to be inspected by a State Watercraft Officer before an Ohio title (or a registration) can be issued. All outboard motors that are 10 HP and more are required to be titled in the State of Ohio, but not registered.

Other homework to do before contacting the seller:

Before you buy, call your local State Watercraft office to clarify what you are going to need, paper-wise, to legally register the boat; be sure to include all related details when you call, such as: “I’m looking at buying a 16-ft. fishing boat with a 40HP outboard from a guy in Indiana. What do I need to get it registered in Ohio?” This will keep surprises to a minimum, help you determine the worth of the boat, and ensure legal registration and titling in Ohio.

When you contact the seller, be sure to ask:

  • Is the boat registered in Ohio? If so, what are the “OH” numbers?
  • Do you have the registration paper or card for this boat? Is it in your name?
  • Do you have a title (if required by state law) for this boat outboard motor if 10 HP or more and being purchased in Ohio in your name? If the title is not in the seller’s name, you may not be able to title the boat/outboard motor in your name – which means you won’t ever be able to register it.
  • Why are you selling the boat? This question can give you some clues as to how well the boat has been looked after before you even see it.
  • What comes with the boat (trailer, safety equipment, etc.)? If the equipment needed to transport or operate the boat is not included, build that into your cost for purchasing the boat. NOTE: If a trailer is involved, be sure the required paperwork is included for it, too. Trailers in Ohio are registered through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles annually, like car license plates. That is a different procedure from getting the boat registration changed.

If any of the answers seem suspicious or if the seller is not forthcoming with information, walk away. For more information on boat registration and titling requirements, call 1-877-4Boater (toll free in Ohio) or 614-265-6480.

When you meet the seller in person:

  • Ask to see his/her photo ID, the title (if the boat/outboard motor requires one) and the registration.
  • Make sure the hull ID number on the registration and the serial number on the outboard motor matches the title (if the boat/outboard motor requires a title). Make sure the seller’s name is on both documents.
  • Look at the boat’s maintenance log. This should list all services, repairs and oil changes. If it’s missing, it can be hard to tell how well the boat has been looked after.
  • You should also ask what the boat was used for, which may affect its condition. For example, boats that are used mainly for skiing tend to run up a large number of engine hours. However, this may not be an issue if the boat was properly maintained.

When checking out the boat itself:

  • Find the hull ID number and make sure it doesn’t look like it has been tampered with and that it matches the number on the boat’s registration and title documents. Write it down or make a pencil tracing (place the paper over the hull ID and rub the side of the pencil lead over the stamp or etching).
  • Look at obvious features, such as the gel coat, woodwork and upholstery. If these haven’t been maintained then there’s a good chance the rest of the boat has not had much care either.
  • Inspect all wooden decking and interior woodwork for any soft spots.
  • Are any parts of the exterior paintwork poorly matched? This may indicate an accident which, in itself, may not be enough to dismiss the boat, but if the owner has not already mentioned it to you, then what else have they not told you?
  • Check that all control cables are in good working order.
  • Look for water lines inside the boat or on the engine. These would indicate that the boat has flooded in the past.
  • Open and close all the hatches and sea cocks to ensure they’re in good working order. If there are any water marks inside the hatches, it would indicate that they are no longer water-tight.
  • Test out all the systems: bilge pump, winches, freshwater system, lights, heater and air conditioning, generator, stove etc.
  • Check that all hardware is attached firmly, and that electrical items and connections are free from rust.
  • On a sail boat, check that all the sails and rigging are in good working order by rigging the boat.

Check the engine:

  • Check for the presence of oil in the bilges—a sign of an oil leak.
  • Check for any oil leaks around gaskets and hoses.
  • Inspect the level and condition of the oil. A milky appearance to the oil is a sign that water may be leaking into the engine. A burned smell or any grit in the oil is additional indications of mechanical problems, while a chalky residue on the engine or drive would signal that the engine has been running hot.
  • Pull out one of the spark plugs and examine it for age. If it’s old, perhaps the engine hasn’t been serviced as often as it should.
  • Examine all the hoses and belts. Are they cracked or degraded? Smell for fuel leaks, and check that the fuel tanks are sound.
  • Get a compression check on the engine or have a boat mechanic check it out for you.

Buying the boat

  • If the boat hasn’t been tested on the water, include that as a contingency in the purchase agreement.
  • Be sure you have all the paperwork before you pay.
  • Pay with a cashier’s check made out to the seller.
  • The boat and outboard motor (if 10 HP or more) must be titled within 30 days after purchase. The boat can not be registered until the title (if a title is required) is transferred in your name. This also is required to be completed within 30 days.

Once you have your boat legally titled and register, it’s time to go boating. Information on boating safety programs, tips and where to enjoy boating may be found at www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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National Safe Boating Week: Ohio Events

Image by lcthulou via Flickr

COLUMBUS, OH – As Ohioans prepare for the summer boating season, which traditionally begins Memorial Day weekend, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is reminding all recreational boaters of the importance in properly wearing an approved life jacket or vest while boating.

“Four people died this year in boating-related accidents—none of them were wearing a life jacket,” said Pamela Dillon, chief, ODNR Division of Watercraft. “We believe that a good boating experience is a safe one and boating safety begins with the choices boaters make before leaving the dock, such as wearing an approved life jacket.”

In observance of National Safe Boating Week, which runs May 22-28, the Division of Watercraft kicks off its third “ Wear It Ohio!” summer life jacket awareness campaign at Alum Creek, East Fork, Caesar Creek Lake and Portage Lakes state parks. The campaign includes special promotional events at each of the four lakes, from May 22 through July 25, focusing on a life jacket loaner program. Eligible participants may qualify to receive, on loan, free use of a new U.S. Coast Guard approved inflatable life vest during the 2010 boating season.

In addition, state and local marine patrol officers will conduct free vessel safety inspections this weekend at various public boat launch ramps statewide. The free courtesy inspections are offered  to ensure that boaters have the required safety equipment on board their boats and that it is in good working condition.

As National Safe Boating Week concludes during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Division of Watercraft will launch its statewide boating safety awareness public service message campaign to remind boaters of the importance of wearing a life jacket and staying sober while boating. Boating safety messages will be broadcast each weekend during the summer on more than 40 radio stations and several cable TV systems.

“We have seen a 33 percent decline in boating-related fatalities on Ohio waterways over the past decade as more boaters become aware of the importance of boating safety,” said Chief Dillon.

A complete listing of “Wear It Ohio!” events, as well as information on boating safety programs, tips and where to enjoy boating, may be found atwww.ohiodnr.com/watercraft.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com

(Editor’s Note – A complete listing of Wear It Ohio! events follows below.)

Alum Creek Lake State ParkDelaware County

  • May 22, Hollenback Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • May 30, New Galena Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • June 20, Cheshire Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • June 26, Hollenback Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • July 10, New Galena Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • July 24, Cheshire Ramp, 11am-3pm

Caesar Creek State ParkWarren County

  • May 22, Wellman Meadow Ramp, 9am–1pm
  • May 30, North Pool Ramp, 9am–1pm
  • June 6, Furnas Shores Ramp, Noon-4pm
  • June 19, “Beach/Lake Fest” at the Beach, Noon–4pm
  • July 17, Wellman Meadow Ramp, 10am-2pm
  • July 25, North Pool Ramp, 10am-2pm

East Fork LakeClermont County

  • May 22, Tate Ramp,11am-3pm
  • May 23, Tate Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • June 12, Tate Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • June 13, Tate Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • July 10, Tate Ramp, 11am-3pm
  • July 11, Tate Ramp, 11am-3pm

Portage Lakes State ParkSummit County

  • May 22, Manchester Road Ramp, 10am-2pm
  • June 5, State Park Drive Ramp, 10am-2pm
  • June 13, State Park Drive Ramp, 10am-2pm
  • June 27, Manchester Road Ramp, 10am-2pm
  • July 10, On the water from a pontoon boat, 1-5pm
  • July 11, Demo Day on the Beach, Noon-4pm– Try out different types of powerboats, PWC, canoes and kayaks. Pontoon boat rides also available.
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Free Boat Safety Inspections Schedule

The Maumee River at Mary Jane Thurston State Park
Image via Wikipedia

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Keep recreational boating a safe and pleasurable experience by taking advantage of the free vessel safety inspections offered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft and its boating partners.

Free to the public, more than 70 safety inspections have been scheduled through early June, according to the Division of Watercraft. These inspections help increase safety awareness just as many Ohioans are launching their boats for the first time this year. A complete listing of vessel safety inspections may be found at http://ohiodnr.com/watercraft/areas/tabid/2487/Default.aspx.

Date Time Location
May 8 Noon -3pm Geneva State Park
May 15 10am-2pm Ashtabula Yacht Club
May 16 11am-2pm Riverside Yacht Club/Harbor Yacht Club
May 22 8am-Noon Conneaut Ramp
9-11am Caesar Creek Wellman Ramp
10am-Noon Atwood Lake Main Ramp
Dillon Lake Big Run Ramp
East Fork Lake North Shore Ramp
East Fork Lake Tate Ramp
Salt Fork Morning Glory Ramp
Seneca Lake Main Ramp
10am-Noon; 1-3pm Pleasant Hill Lake Public Ramp
Tappan Lake Route 250 Ramp
10am-4pm Huron Lagoons Marina
Channel Park Marina on Cuyahoga River
11am-1pm Alum Creek Hollenback Ramp
Buckeye Lake Liebs Island Ramp
Knox Lake North Ramp/Knox Marine
May 23 7-11am Pymatuning Lake Padanarum Ramp
9-11am Buck Creek
10-11:30am Cooley Canal Lucas County Ramp
10am-Noon Burr Oak Dock #4
Catawba Island State Park in Ottawa County
Dillon Marina Ramp
East Fork Lake Tate Ramp
Ohio River Schmidt Field Ramp
Salt Fork Ramp
Seneca Lake Main Ramp
10am-Noon; 1-3pm Charles Public Mill Ramp
Leesville Public Ramp
11am-1pm Alum Creek New Galena Ramp
Delaware State Park Main Marina Ramp
Buckeye Lake North Shore Ramp
Hoover Reservoir Red Bank Ramp
1-2pm Napoleon City Boat Ramp in Henry County
1-3pm Cullen Park Boat Ramp in Lucas County
2-4pm Sandusky Ramp in Erie County
3-4pm Mary Jane Thurston State Park Ramp in Henry County
May 24 5-7pm Deer Creek West Ramp
5:30-7pm Maple Street Ramp in Wood County
May 26 10am-2pm Lorain Hot Waters Launch Ramp on the Black River
10am-5pm Bass Pro Shops – Rossford
May 28 1-5pm Geneva State Park
5-7pm Hueston Woods
May 29 10am-4pm Edgewater Yacht Club on Lake Erie
1-3pm Jacks
May 31 9am-3pm Rocky River Boat Ramp
June 5 10am-4pm Lakeside Yacht Club on Lake Erie
Noon -2pm Brockway
June 9 10am-2pm Spitzer Lakeside Marina on Lake Erie/Black River
June 13 10am-2pm Spitzer Riverside Marina on the Black River
10am-3pm Roaming Rock
June 19 Noon-2pm Riverside Yacht Club/Harbor Yacht Club
June 26 10am-2pm Maple Grove Marina on the Vermilion River
June 27 10am-2pm Ashtabula Yacht Club
July 3 1-4pm Geneva State Park
July 11 Noon-3pm Redbrook Boat Club
July 17 10am-2pm Jacks
July 31 Noon-3pm Roaming

Watercraft officers provide written courtesy inspection reports that allow boat owners to make any recommended improvements to their boating safety equipment. These inspections typically examine the condition of fire extinguishers, horns, navigational lights and distress signals, as well as life jackets and vests, which must be kept in good condition and readily accessible to all boat occupants.

Information on required safety equipment, boating rules and other boating programs is available online at www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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