Cautionary Tales in Boating Safety: Part 2

Adam Lucas

Image courtesy of Flickr user Orin Zebest

If there’s one thing former Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway Water Patrol Officer Adam Lucas has learned, it’s that you don’t need to be in the water to have a boating accident.

Running late one morning, he said he quickly hooked up a patrol boat to his truck and rushed to the lake to meet with another officer. While traveling across a rough bridge, he noticed an unusually loud sound. Naturally, he glanced into his rear view mirror.

“I saw my boat going left when my truck was still going straight,” he said. “The trailer had come off its hitch and was dragging on the safety chains behind the truck.”

Panicking, Lucas said he slammed on the breaks, which caused the trailer to slam into the back of his truck and damage the tailgate. Although no one was injured, his pride suffered quite a bit.

“The worst part of the whole experience was that my supervisor made me investigate my own accident and file an accident report that showed I was at fault for ‘failure to give full time and attention’”, he said.

Lucas said this experience taught him to always double checking a tow hitch to make sure it is properly secured. In addition, the tow chains must be fastened correctly. In his case they were, otherwise the person in the car behind his could have been seriously injured.

Image courtesy of the National Safe Boating Council

Another scary experience he said he had was when his coworker, dressed in full duty gear, fell overboard while trying to get a dog back on board. Because it was spring and the water was cold, the shock of falling in sucked up most of her strength.

“What made this scary was that the boat didn’t have a swim platform or any type of ladder to get her back in,” he said. “The shore was about a half mile away and she wasn’t wearing a life jacket.”

Using a rocking technique he learned during boating training, Lucas pushed his coworker into the water and pulled her up higher and higher as momentum built. Eventually, he was able to pull her over the stern and subsequently rescue the dog.

He said the most important safety tips are to steer all blind corners extra wide, wear a life jacket while on the water, and drink plenty of water while boating.  As for the latter, cool breezes often mask heat exhaustion, which was their most common EMS call.

As one last piece of advice, Lucas said people should not think they won’t get caught or charged with a DWI while boating. Boating can be more dangerous than driving a car, especially if there is alcohol involved.

“During the summer, we made just as many boating DWI arrests as my fellow road officers made on the street,” he said.


Boating Safety Tips: Part 1

We’ve chatted with a few people and asked what they believe the most important boating safety tips are. Here’s what one of them had to say:

Brian Kempf, Marine Services, State of New York

  • Wear your life jacket
  • Take a safe boating class
  • Never boat and drink
  • Always let others know where you’re going
  • Bring a sound producing device
  • Bring a phone or VHF radio
  • Always dress for water temperatures

In addition, Kempf said National Safe Boating Week is essential for reinforcing the important considerations to be aware of before heading out into the water. Lack of life jackets or not wearing them when required are among the most noted violations, and they are essential to have on.

Image courtesy of the National Safe Boating Council

“Being prepared for unexpected water immersion greatly increases your chances of survival,” he said.

The most important point to take away is situational awareness, he said. That means paying attention to the waters, locales, weather, and remoteness.


Cautionary Tales in Boating Safety: Part 1

As part of our series of posts on safe boating, we will be presenting four real stories of people who have had dangerous or scary boating experiences. These individuals have shared these tales in hopes of helping others who may encounter the same situations. Regardless of whether or not an accident is unavoidable, the most important factor is what’s ultimately learned from it.

Ken Beckstead

Ken Beckstead (right) and friend Jeff Moschin. Photo courtesy of Ken.

There’s one unsettling boating experience Nevada resident Ken Beckstead will never forget.

While waterskiing at Kings River, he said he suddenly saw a jet boat traveling toward a narrow part of the river. The boat was equipped with a jetovator, a device that sprays water out of a jet propulsion system.  Because the spray is about 50 feet high and 200 feet back, it cannot be traveled through due to risk of bodily harm.

Although Beckstead was able to get to the side of the river and away from the jet boat, he said other boaters had no escape route. One of the trapped boats contained children.

“The jet boat actually went over the top of the boat with kids in a side on collision,” he said. “The kids were pressed down in their boat by the jet boat hull.”

Ambulances were called, and there were no serious injuries, Beckstead said. However, it remains an example of how some people get terrible results from showing off their fast boats at the worst times.

“Luckily the jet boat had no external propeller,” he said. “The kids would have been cut to pieces.”

He said he remembers another similar story of a man on a jet ski who left the shore and was suddenly side impacted by a boat traveling about 60 miles per hour. No one saw the man lying face down in the water except Beckstead’s friend on shore.

“It was too far to swim out to the guy,” he said. “He died before anyone in the water saw him.”

He said although he has owned different kinds of freshwater and ocean boats for the past thirty years, he never utilized fast speeds unless he was the only boat around for at least a mile. If the motor in any jet propelled vessel suddenly dies, the driver has no control over steering or braking.

He suggests never letting anyone without experience drive a boat because the wakes can sink a boater not familiar with crossing waves correctly. In addition, people should scan around their boat at least every minute for their own safety.

“The best advice I can give is to take a safe boating class,” Beckstead said. “Once you actually get on the water there is only one rule, never trust anyone.”


National Safe Boating Week: What You Need to Know

National Safe Boating Week takes place this year from May 19 to May 25with the purpose of educating individuals about the importance of boater safety and life jacket use, according to the National Safe Boating Council, Inc., or NSBC.

The NSBC began in 1958 as the National Safe Boating Committee and their purpose was to plan for each year’s National Safe Boating Week, said Rachel Johnson, Communications Director at the NSBC. A few years later, an official resolution was passed that designated the full week before Memorial Day weekend National Safe Boating Week.

She said one of the main educational and outreach efforts of the NSBC is the “Wear It!” campaign.

“The campaign is designed to educate boaters about the importance of always wearing a life jacket while boating and offering them information on the different styles that are available so they can choose the right life jacket for their boating lifestyle,” she said.

According to the NSBC, drowning was the reported cause of death in almost 75 percent of all boating fatalities and 88 percent of those were reported as not wearing life jackets. To kick off National Safe Boating Week, the third-annual “Ready, Set, Wear It!” Life Jacket World Record Day will take place on Saturday, May 19.

“The goal of “Ready, Set, Wear It!” is not only to beat the 2011 record of 1,685 life jackets worn throughout the world, but to promote the comfortable and versatile options when it comes to life jackets and to educate the public about life jackets and safe boating in general,” Johnson said.

Prior to the start of National Safe Boating Week, individuals are encouraged to wear their life jackets to work on Friday, May 18, and take a photo of it, according to the NSBC. Participants are encouraged to share their photos with others and post them on the “Ready, Set, Wear It!” Facebook wall.

According to the NSBC, this initiative demonstrates how easy it is to wear a life jacket and helps spread the word about life jacket use.

According to statistics on boating fatalities from the United States Coast Guard, there has been a steady decrease in boating fatalities since about 1960. This supports the claim that boating has gotten safer since the first national observance of NSBW.

Our infographic below displays boating injuries and deaths from 2006 to 2010, and the data show the same pattern of steady decrease.

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The Notable Knots Have Moved!


If you’re not a follower of technology news it’s quite possible that you never learned about the demise of Geocities, a web hosting service that started in 1994. To make a long story short, it was eventually purchased by Yahoo! and then shut down in the United States in 2009.

In the early days of the internet, it was one of the more popular hosting providers, and with its demise also came the demise of an immense amount of websites with a ton of great information. So in an effort to talk about some other things useful to those of you interested in our pontoon boats, we thought we’d point you to a revived version of  a popular old site on GeoCities that we thought had gone down with the ship. For you knot enthusiasts, there’s a new version of the Notable Knot Index formerly available at that you can find here.

Knot components


Manitou X-PLODE – Cobalt 276 comparison

What makes for the best performance boat? Is it speed? Handling? How about luxury? Or is it the obvious combination of all of these features? Every boat model offers its own unique features, which can make choosing the right boat a difficult task, especially when considering different types of boats.

The bowrider and pontoon are two entirely different boats, but they are increasingly similar in their performance. This comparison looks at Manitou’s X-PLODE model pontoon—one of the fastest, most comfortable pontoons on the market—and the Cobalt 276—the Bentley of sportboats.



Photo courtesy of Manitou Pontoon Boats

The Manitou X-PLODE sits at the cross-section of speed, luxury and ultimate comfort. Its innovative design is unlike any other pontoon, with sportboat handling specifications, an impressive platform for watersports enthusiasts, a variety of floor plan options, plenty of features for entertaining and more.

Sport handling package

Let’s look at the X-PLODE’s sport handling package. The X-PLODE is a performance boat unlike any other, because it offers a pontoon feel and V-hull characteristics. Manitou’s trademarked triple tube design is what allows for maximum handling and comfort. The design consists of a lowered center tube with a larger diameter and lifting strakes on each side of the three tubes, that when put into a turn, perform much like a fiberglass V-hull. Your guests will experience more comfort and relaxation as they are not pushed to either side of the boat with each turn.

Standard features

Manitou’s X-PLODE offers standard features that most sport boats don’t include standard or even offer as optional features. Manitou includes features of the likes of portable cup holders, a mooring cover, a stern toy box, privacy curtain kit and a color-matched steering wheel. Here is a complete list of standard features:

  • 12 volt outlet and iPod/Mp3 holder and input jack
  • AM and FM Sony CD player w/ set of 6 speakers
  • Anodized rub rail w/ stainless steel dock guard
  • Anodized walls
  • Bimini anchor light
  • Carpet – shaw (taupe)
  • Cooler – 24 can, hard side
  • Corner castings – stainless steel
  • Crossmembers – extruded aluminum
  • Cupholders – portable
  • Cupholders – stainless steel
  • Deck – limited lifetime warranty
  • Depth gauge
  • Dinette table
  • Docking lights – LED
  • Fasteners – stainless steel
  • Fuel gauge
  • Furniture – Comfort Touch marine vinyl
  • Furniture – extended starboard chaise
  • Gas tank – built-in, 51 gallon
  • Helm chair – reclines mid-back w/ self-leveling arms
  • Helm chair – automotive-style slider
  • Helm – fiberglass w/ Soft Touch automotive-style top
  • Horn
  • Hourmeter
  • Ladder – stainless steel, stern entry
  • Lift gates
  • Light – courtesy
  • Master on/off battery switch
  • Mooring cleats – 4 regular, stainless steel
  • Mooring cover
  • Mooring eyes
  • Motor mount – aluminum w/ splash shields
  • Navigation lights – LED
    NMMA certified using ABYC standards
  • Nose cones – anti-spray integrated splash fins
  • Pontoon tube riser – full-length
  • Privacy station curtain kit
  • Seat hinges – hands-free loading
  • Ski tow bar
  • Speedometer
  • Steering wheel – color-matched
  • Swim platforms – built-in
  • Tachometer
  • Trim gauge – w/ pre-rig
  • Voltmeter
  • Waste basket
  • Windscreen

Optional features

Still swooning over the X-PLODE’s awesome dose of standard features? That’s nothing. The available options for this model exceed all expectations. Manitou offers optional features like a portable table capable of rolling within the boat; a galley with sink for entertaining and storing tableware and party favors; and a portable barbeque grill. Other options include a bow filler bench, stainless steel bimini frame and a power bimini for those who aren’t a fan of elbow grease. Here is a complete list of optional features:

  • BBQ grill
  • Battery charging system
  • Acrylic tubes
  • Bimini top – power arm
  • Bow gate filler seat bench
  • Center in-tube storage
  • Cooler – 24 can, hard side
  • Cupholders – portable
  • Dock bumper
  • Double bimini top – stainless steel
  • Dual battery smart switch
  • Enclosure – full
  • Enclosure – stern
  • Galley w/ sink
  • Helm chair – reclining high back w/ self-leveling arms and bolster
  • Hydraulic pedestal for helm chair
  • Ladder – versa-trac, 4 step
  • Lighting – blue LED for cupholders
  • Lighting – blue LED for exterior
  • Lighting – track, blue LED for interior
  • Porta potti
  • Portable table
  • Rear fiberglass decking w/ custom floor mats
  • Ski mirror
  • Sirius satellite radio
  • Ski tow storage rack
  • Vinyl floor – full deck

Deck plans

Manitou also offers a variety of floor plans for their X-PLODE model. The standard deck plan offers classic L-shaped lounge seating along the portside, making adventures at the end of the towline easy and exciting to watch. This design provides three entry gates—at the bow, stern and portside. The standard design is wheelchair accessible through the portside gate and boats plenty of room for comfort. Other features of the standard deck plan include two lounges at the bow, an optional dining table, sunpad at the stern and vast wet storage.

The PT floor plan allows for more intimate gatherings in the bow, with two comfortable bucket seats to port. It also maintains the starboard lounge and L-shaped seating, as well as a sunpad with storage.

Color packages

The 2012 X-PLODE comes with a variety of color and graphic options to allow boat designs to match everyone’s style and taste. Each model is available in a unique design and with neutral or colored walls, matching graphics and color-coordinated interior vinyl.

The standard colors are red, black, burgundy and blue. Learn more about the color packages here.


The Manitou X-PLODE starts at $68,988 with standard features, but its final price depends on the preferred packages and features of the buyer.


Check out this video of the X-PLODE in action.


Photo courtesy of

The Cobalt 276 offers an advantage in sportboat design and performance with a distinct bow layout and desired specifications. This model comes with a host of standard features and optional items for a luxurious bowrider experience. Its lightweight material construction allows for improved efficiency without sacrificing strength.

Standard features

The 276 has a range of standard features not often seen on boats in class. It has a fiberglass liner, swim platform fully integrated into the hull, molded-in graphics and an electric riser for the motor box. More standard features include:

  • AM/FM CD w/ 6 speakers and amplifier
  • Aluminum windshield w/ stainless steel cap
  • Bow scuff plate – stainless steel
  • Carpet in the cockpit
  • Depth and water/air temp gauge pkg.
  • Engine vents – stainless steel
  • Gel coat liner in engine room
  • Head – portable
  • Mini wet bar – in cockpit
  • Outlet – 12-volt Acc
  • Porta-potti
  • Removable ski pylon
  • Swim ladder – starboard boarding
  • Swim platform
  • Wood/dash trim pkg.

Optional features

Cobalt’s 276 excludes a lot of typical standard features and instead offers them as optional features. This is because not everyone would utilize these items for a boat of this size and price range. The 276’s optional features include:

  • Bimini top
  • Cockpit cover
  • Dinette table for cockpit
  • GPS/Chart
  • Head – fixed
  • Porcelain toilet
  • Teak table – port side
  • Transom shower
  • Trim tabs
  • Windlass


This model is a big bowrider, with a standard, trailerable beam, high freeboard, massive helm seat, advanced cockpit utility and standing-access to the anchor.


The Cobalt’s cockpit contains wraparound seating, a wide companion seat to port that doubles as a lounger and a seatback that bends forward as the stern sunpad’s backrest. The cockpit also includes double-stitched upholstery, snap-in carpet and mini wet bar.


The helm seat of this model is huge, comfortable and well-built, able to slide fore and aft. It also has a high back and padded flip-up bolster. Its only disadvantage is its inability to be raised and lowered.


Forward of the companion seat, the head includes a wide door to the compartment and comfortable sitting clearance. There is also a small sink to port, as well as a porta-potti.


The Cobalt’s bow contains an inclined backrest and U-shaped seating without the forward most part, as to create a bow with more utility. This allows passengers to sit facing forward and for easy access to the anchor while standing.


Cobalt offers an exceptional warranty for the 276. There is a 10-year limited warranty on the hull and deck, five-year warranty on the engine, five years on the accessories and three years on the gel coat.


The base price of the Cobalt 276, powered by a single MerCruiser 8.2L gas engine and Bravo III dual-prop drive is $120,606.


Take a look at the Cobalt 276 on the water.

U.S. Boating Laws, Safety Courses and Licensing By State

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Another great online resource for courses and licensing is, which has a tremendous amount of licensing and safety courses, as well as study material listed by state.


Alabama Official Boating Safety Course
Alabama Boater License Laws


Alaska Office of Boating Safety
Alaska Boater Education Card Overview & Course Information
Alaska Online Boating Exam
Boating Laws State Requirements for Alaska
Alaska Boat Registration


Arizona Boating License Course and Online Boating Test
Arizona Boat Certification Exam


Arkansas Online Boating Safety Course
Boating Education Classes
Arkansas Boating Handbook PDF
Boating Education Testing Sites
Arkansas Boat Registration


California Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
California Boating Law
California Boat Registration and Licenses


Colorado Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Colorado Boat Registration and Licenses


Connecticut Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Connecticut Boater’s Guide
Connecticut Boat Registration and Licenses


Delaware online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Delaware Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Delaware Boat Registration and Licenses


Florida Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Florida Boating Handbook Laws & Responsibilities
Florida Boat Registration and Licenses


Georgia Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Georgia Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Georgia Boat Registration and Licenses


Hawaii Division of Boating and Recreation
Hawaii Online Boating Course and Exam
State of Hawaii Boating Safety Requirements
Hawaii Boat Registration and Licenses


State of Idaho Parks and Recreation
Idaho Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Idaho Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Idaho Boat Renewal


Illinois Department of Natural Resources/Boating
Illinois Boating Safety Course and Certification Exam
Handbook of Illinois Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Illinois Boating Registration Information


Indiana Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Indiana Boating Laws
Registering Your Boat or PWC in Indiana
Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles/Boat Registration


Iowa Online Boating Course and Exam
Iowa DNR Boating Safety Tips
Iowa Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Iowa Boating Registration Information


Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Kansas Boating Education Info
Kansas Online Boating Courses and Exams
Kansas Boating Law Enforcement
Kansas Boating Registration Information and Forms


Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources/Boating
Kentucky Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Kentucky Boating Regulations
Kentucky Boat Registration


Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries/Boating
Louisiana Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Louisiana Boating Handbook PDF
Louisiana Required Boating Equipment and Regulations
Online Boat Registration Renewal
Louisiana Boating Registration and Title Links and Documents


Maine Online and In-class Boating Courses and Exams
State of Maine Boating Laws and Rules
Maine Boating Registration Information
Maine Boat Registration Renewal Service Online


Maryland Department of Natural Resources/Boating
Maryland Online and Classroom Boating Courses and Exams
Maryland Boating Regulations
Maryland Boat Registration


Massachusetts Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Massachusetts Boating Safety Handbook
Massachusetts Boating Laws
Massachusetts Boating Registration Applications and Online Renewal


Who Needs to Take Boater Safety?
Michigan Official Online Boating Safety Course
Search for a Boating Safety Class in your Area
Take the Michigan Boating License Pre-Certification Exam
The Handbook of Boating Responsibilities and Laws in Michigan
Michigan Boat Registration


Minnesota Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Minnesota Boating and Water Recreation Regulations
Minnesota Watercraft Licenses – Regulations, Procedures and Fees


Mississippi Online Boating Course and Exam
Mississippi Boating Handbook
Mississippi Boating Regulations and Online Registration


Missouri Boat Registration and Boater Safety Certification
Missouri Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Titling and Registering Boats in Missouri—Regulations, Applications and Links


Montana Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Montana Boating Laws
Montana Boating Registration Information and Fees


Nebraska Boating Safety Courses
2011 Nebraska Boating Guide
Nebraska Boating Regulations
Nebraska Boating Registration Information


Nevada Boating Education and Online Courses and Exams
Nevada Handbook of Boating Laws
Nevada Boating Laws
Nevada Boaters Registration Information

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Department of Safety Boating Education program
New Hampshire Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
New Hampshire Boating Laws and Responsibilities
New Hampshire Boat Registration and Licenses

New Jersey

New Jersey Boating Course Online
New Jersey Boating Safety Manual
State of New Jersey Boat Registration Information

New Mexico

New Mexico Boater Education Options
New Mexico Boating Laws and State Park Regulations
New Mexico Boater Registration Information and Links

New York

New York Boating Classroom Courses
State of New York Boating Requirements
New York: The Legal Requirements of Boating
New York Boat Registration and Licenses

North Carolina

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission/Boating
North Carolina Boating Safety Online and Classroom Courses and Exams
North Carolina Boating Regulations
North Carolina Boating Checklist
North Carolina Vessel Operators Guide
North Carolina Boater Registration and Titling Information

North Dakota

North Dakota Game and Fish Department/Boating
North Dakota Boating and Water Safety Education Online and Classroom Courses
North Dakota Boat and Water Safety Guide
North Dakota Watercraft Registration


Ohio Boater Education—Online and Classroom Courses and Exams
Ohio Boating Laws
Ohio Required Boating Safety Equipment
Ohio Boater Registration Information and Links


Oklahoma Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Oklahoma Boat Safety
Oklahoma Handbook of Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Oklahoma Boat Registration and Licenses


Oregon State Marine Board
Oregon Online Boater Education Courses
Oregon Boater Education Courses by County
Oregon Boater Safety Information
Oregon Boating Laws
Oregon Boat Registration and Titling Resources


Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
Pennsylvania Online and Classroom Boating Courses
Pennsylvania Boating Handbook
Pennsylvania Boater Registration and Titling Information

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Online Boating Course and Exam
Rhode Island Boating Laws and Responsibilities
Rhode Island Boat Licensing and Registration Links and Applications
Rhode Island Online Boat Registration Renewal

South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources/Boating
South Carolina Boater Education Online and Classroom Courses
South Carolina Boat Registration and Titling Information
South Carolina Boating Regulations and Fees

South Dakota

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks/Boating
South Dakota Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
South Dakota Boating Safety Tips
South Dakota Boating Regulation Handbook
South Dakota Boat Registration and Licensing
How to Apply For a Boat Title and Registration in South Dakota


Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency/Boating
Tennessee Boater Education Resources
Tennessee Boating Education Class Locations by County
Tennessee Boating Regulations
Tennessee Boat Registration Information
Tennessee Online Boat Registration Renewal


Texas Parks and Wildlife/Boating
Texas Online Boater Safety Course and Exam
Texas Boater Education Classes by City
Texas Boating Laws
Texas Boating Title and Registration Requirements
Texas Boat Registration Renewal Online


Utah State Parks/Boating
Utah Online Boating Courses and Exams
Highlighted Utah Boating Laws
Utah Boating Safety Equipment Checklist


Vermont Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Vermont Boating Handbook of Laws and Responsibilities
Vermont Boat Registration Information and Applications


Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Boating
List of Classroom and Online Boating Courses and Exams in Virginia
Virginia Watercraft Owner’s Guide
Virginia Boat Registration and Titling Information and Forms


Washington Boating Handbook
Washington Boat registration and Titling Information and Links

West Virginia

West Virginia Online Boating Course and Exam
Boat Registration and Licenses in West Virginia


Wisconsin Boating Regulations Handbook
Wisconsin Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Wisconsin Boat Registration and Licensing Information


Wyoming Game and Fish Department/Boating
Wyoming Online Boating Safety Course and Exam
Wyoming Boat Registration and Licensing Information


Whatever state you live in, you can take a look at our pontoon boats with V-Toon technology.