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Hooks & Antlers: Life Jackets Reduce Boating Fatalities

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This week is National Safe Boating Week, and the 2014 theme encourages boaters to wear their life jackets because according to the BoatUS Foundation, “Of all the fatal boating accident victims who drowned, almost 85 percent weren’t wearing a life jacket.”

Life jackets come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes so boaters can easily find a comfortable fit, which is important when it comes to youths.

A common mistake is to put an adult-size jacket on a youngster. Another common mistake is stowing life jackets where they are not handily accessible. Most accidents happen quickly and circumstances don’t always allow for retrieving stowed life jackets.

From a safety perspective, wearing a life jacket makes a lot of sense for boaters. If boaters choose not to wear life jackets, then it makes sense to have the jackets so they are readily accessible.

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating.

Funded primarily be the half-million members of BoatUS, the organization provides innovative educational outreach directly to boaters and anglers with the aim of reducing accidents and fatalities, increasing stewardship of America’s waterways and keeping boating safe.

A range of boating safety courses and more information can be found at

Motorboat Education Law

New York state has a new motorboat law regarding age and education requirements for motorboat operators.

The regulation states, “Any person born on or after May 1, 1996 and at least 10 years old who operates a motorboat must be the holder of a boating safety certificated issued by one of the following: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (, or United States Power Squadron (”

NYS Boater’s Guide

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has produced a 64-page booklet entitled New York State Boater’s Guide.

Designed as a handbook of registration, operation and safety information for the prudent boater, the guide has eight sections: Registration, Trailering, Equipment, Rules of the Nautical Road, General Boating Requirements, Getting Underway, Specific Recreational Boating Activities and Personal Watercraft.

All boaters are encouraged to look at page 28 of the booklet. That page lists the required safety equipment for various pleasure boats. The categories include personal watercraft, motorboats less than 16 feet, motorboats from 16 feet to less than 26 feet, rowboats, canoes, kayaks and sailboats.

The New York State Boater’s Guide is available on-line at

Life Jacket Regulations

New York State law refers to life jackets as Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), and in keeping with National Safe Boating Week’s life jacket theme, here’s a look at our state’s PFD requirements:

A PFD must be worn by anyone operating a personal watercraft. A PFD must be worn by anyone under 12 years of age, unless in an enclosed cabin, if onboard a motorboat less than 65 feet or any other pleasure boat including sailboats, canoes and kayaks. A PFD must be worn between Nov. 1 and May 1 by any individual on any pleasure boat under 21 feet, including sailboats, canoes and kayaks.

For motorboats less than 16 feet, motorboats 16 feet to less than 26 feet, rowboats, canoes, kayaks and sailboats, a PFD is required for each person on board, but the PFD does not have to be worn.

DMP Deer Takes

New York state hunters used Deer Management Permits (DMPs) to harvest 98,945 deer or 40.6 percent of the total 2013 kill of 243,567 deer. The statewide success rate for hunters using DMPs was 15.2 percent.

Southern Zone hunters tagged 91,989 deer with DMPs, and this figure accounted for 44.2 percent of the zone’s 2013 kill of 208,325. Long Island hunters harvested 1,588 deer using DMPs, and this number represents 55.3 percent of the total take of 2,873 deer. In the Northern Zone, DMPs accounted for 5,368 deer or 16.6 percent of this zone’s total 2013 kill of 32,369 deer.

Outdoors Calendar

Today through Friday: National Safe Boating Week.

Monday: Trap and Skeet Shoot at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club on Pray Road at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Trap Shoot at Black Lake F&G Clubhouse at 7 p.m.

Saturday: Cape Vincent Chamber of Commerce Spring Fishing Derby (654-2481).

Saturday: Spider’s Basic Fishing and Fly Fishing Programs at Wellesley Island State Park (482-2479).

May 26: Trap and Skeet Shoot at Lisbon Sportsmen’s Club on Pray Road at 5:30 p.m.

May 27: SLC Fisheries Advisory Board meets at Canton Boces at 7 p.m.

May 31: Wild Turkey season closes in NYS.

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