Boating – Considerations Before Launching Your Personal Water Craft

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 20,724
    Lieutenant Ward Kovacs from the Ocean City Beach Patrol discusses what to consider Before Launching Your Personal Water Craft.

    Edward Kovacs

    Ward Kovacs is a Lieutenant with the Ocean City Beach Patrol in Ocean City, Maryland where he has worked as an ocean lifeguard since 1983. Some of his chief interests during this time have been working on techniques for the care and treatment of patients who have suffered spinal injuries in the surf, supervising the Junior Beach Patrol program, and developing a rescue watercraft program. The area that has seen the most changes over the years has been in the watercraft program. In 1980 the Beach Patrol acquired its first motorized vessels. The town purchased four Zodiac Mark IV Grand Raid inflatable boats, and four 25 horsepower Evinrude outboards. The boats were not put to any regular use, as few guards knew how to operate them. Ward was one of those who enjoyed driving the boats in the surf, and spent hundreds of hours launching, beaching, and riding waves with the boats. Within a few years, Ward designed a three-day training school for lifeguards who were interested in operating the rescue craft. In the early days, the school was largely based on knowledge he gained through his own experiences; both good and bad. With the advent of jet-powered craft in the early 1990’s, the Beach Patrol began to use two rigid hulled Zodiac jet boats that were powered by Yamaha motors. They later moved toward using personal watercraft along with rescue sleds that attach to rear of the vessels. Each advancement in technology has required Ward to make changes in the way rescue craft are deployed and used. The Beach Patrol now uses four Kawasaki 1200 cc Jetskis with rescue sleds. Lt. Kovacs continues to oversee the purchasing and deployment of watercraft, and the training of lifeguards who use them.

    Hi, I am Mort Kovacs, I am the Rescue Boat Instructor for the Ocean City Maryland Beach Patrol. In this segment of our video on personal watercraft, we are going to talk about some things that you should discuss or you should consider before you actually launch your personal watercraft. First of all, you want to make sure that you have fuel, look at your fuel gates. Most personal watercraft you have to turn the key to on before that will display. You want to make sure that you have your emergency safety lanyard in place. You want to start the motor before you launch, but before you start your motor, especially after fueling, you always want to vent out your engine compartment, so that if theres any gas fumes that are in there that could pose a potential hazard, you will have a chance to vent all.

    Go ahead and start. When you start your personal watercraft, make sure the battery is fully charged, and all the systems seem to be functioning properly. Some equipment that you are going to want to have with you, of course youre going to want to have a personal floatation device thats made for operating a personal watercraft. If you were to take with you a personal floatation device like this, thats made to be carried on a boat, maybe thrown to someone, thats not really adequate for the speeds that these achieve. If you were thrown from one of these at 30, 40 miles an hour, this wouldnt do you much good. You want to make sure that you have your fire extinguisher with you, thats stored usually in a compartment back here behind the seat. Its good to have a handheld flare or a launchable flare with you, incase you are broken down. I always like to pack with me some sunscreen, extra water. Before you launch for a trip out on the water, you want to let a responsible person know where you are going, how long you are going to be out, what time you expect to be back. Thats what we call filing a float plan. I also like to carry cell phone. If something bad happens when I am out in the water, I can call someone and get the help that I need, but if I am having a great time and I want to extend the float plan that I have filed with somebody, I can also do that. I can call them up and let them know I am going to be a few extra hours, and give them a new estimated time in. I like to keep my cell phone wrapped up in a towel, because what that does is it keeps the plastic case safe and also the cell phone. It doesnt get banged around a lot in a hole of the jet ski, if I am out in some rough waters. Before I actually launch the jet ski, I want to quickly go over the hull, make sure that no damage occurred between the last time I had out, for example, when I was putting on the trailer after the last trip. I want to go to the rear of the personal watercraft, and just about every model has two screw in plugs; one on either side of the jet drive, and you want to make sure that they are secured so that you are not taking on water when you launch. In our next segment on personal watercraft I am going to talk about some of the steering issues that are unique to boats and also to jet driving craft, and we are actually going to go out and get in the water.