small boat safety in the Sound

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
I'm getting excited for the warmer weather and would like to get off the beach and into the Sound in my 14' rowing dory for some SRC and salmon fishing and crabbing. I moved out here from New England last summer and am just learning the Sound. I've never had my boat in anything but freshwater lakes, but it is stand-to-cast stable.
View attachment 226819
that is a pretty boat!
A buddy and I took one out of a similar design, me on the oars and him dealing with the crab pots. It was scary in large part because the boat lacked freeboard for the Puget Sound waters. But we lived

the waters in Mukilteo get the wind from the fetch if Puget Sound. When the wind and current are opposed, it can create difficult water.

I use to fish from my 18’6” EasyRuder Kayak. Awesome boat but the distractions of fishing while dealing with conditions made it difficult to have fun, short of trolling. I usually fished Admiralty Inlet, and you should avoid these water, including Possession Point, unless you launch in a bay along the west side of whidbey.
 

Zak

Active Member
I'm putting my safety kit together. What do folks recommend for a dry case to keep emergency supplies. Hard shell or dry bag? Reviews on Amazon are all over place as to waterproofness and corrosion resistance. Thanks!
 
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Jake

Active Member
WFF Supporter
Here’s what I don’t leave the dock without:

Weatherproof/waterproof marine radio and the knowledge to use it.

Anchor and running lights.

Flare gun

Overboard cutoff for engine

Air horn

First aid kit

Current life jackets for everyone aboard

Throw ring + rope.
 
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Rogue Fanatic

Active Member
Here’s what I don’t leave the dock without:

Weatherproof/waterproof marine radio and the knowledge to use it.

Anchor and running lights.

Flare gun

Overboard cutoff for engine

Air horn

First aid kit

Current life jackets for everyone aboard

Throw ring + rope.
And a bail bucket! Works faster than a hand pump when you are motivated (and you will be when water comes in) and has other uses (pee bucket, drift sock, crab tank, etc.)
 

Nick Clayton

Well-Known Member
WFF Supporter
Personally I find a dry bag easier to deal with, storage wise. Depending on your boat and storage options you could definitely do some sort of hard case but they tend to take up more room and not fit as well in many spaces.
 

wanative

Retired, gone fishin'
WFF Supporter
In my 17 foot Swampscott dory:

You will be subject to inspection by Coast Guard and Sheriff's, State Parks Rangers etc., Marine Units on the water. Make sure you have the minimum required safety items. If you do not have the minimum safety equipment you will get an expensive infraction ticket :

There are boating safety education laws in Washington. Be sure that you comply:


A loud air horn and whistle is a good idea. Wear the whistle on a lanyard on your life jacket or around your neck. Keep the horn within reach. All of your safety gear should be stowed in dry bags or lashed with lanyards to the boat.

I keep my VHF handheld radio close at hand. And I clip it to my PFD in rough conditions or while on big water crossings, in deeper or rougher water, etc.

I have the Standard Horizon HX870. it's an excellent marine vhf radio, with GPS and DSC rescue options. I keep it dry and turned off until needed. I keep a fresh spare battery tray in the dry bag too. Don't use a cheap vhf!

I carry an ACR brand 406/122.5 (frequencies) EPIRB. I keep it dry and readily available. I update the NOAA registration every 2 years. Send it in for inspection as required. Test it a few times a year. An EPIRB is your link to a lifesaving rescue. A good one is worth it's weight in gold.

I also carry a handheld GPS. Just for kicks.

I carry marine charts and for any area I am navigating in. The kayakers have come up with some great charts and trip guides of Puget Sound region waters. Perfect for smaller boats too. Use up to date charts!

I carry a handheld waterproof compass. I know how to use it. I also carry a "Rite in the rain" waterproof notebook and waterproof pen for navigation use or trip notes.

https://www.riteintherain.com/

This be handy if you are trying to relay information to the Coast Guard or other marine patrol authority. You can do everything right and witness someone else in a tragedy. With a good VHF you can save a life.

Get the best quality PFD that you can, and WEAR IT!

Having some hand held lights is important. Also a legal requirement. I have a water resistant headlight and handheld light. Once it gets dark I wear the headlight. I don't turn it on unless there are other vessels operating closeby.

I carry some hand held flares and a pack or two of "Skyrocket" pencil flares. I also have a few smoke flares.

Spare lines and a suitable anchor and anchor rode will save you in a pinch.

First aid kit in a dry bag.
Signal mirror.

Fresh drinking water and healthy snacks.

In dangerously cold water you should dress for immersion.

Sunglasses and sun protection. Broad brimmed hat, sunscreen, long sleeved sun shirt and long sun protection pants etc. The summer sun will roast you in a small open boat here.

Practice swamping / capsizing your boat. Do this first in shallow water where you can stand on the bottom. Then get it into deeper water a little at a time. You want to know for a fact if you can self rescue in deeper water.

Have a few different water bailing options; hand pump, pail, soft plastic or canvas bucket, Clorox bottle etc. A big sponge like the ones that stone masons and tile setters use is great for this too. Always secure your bailers to the boat!

Extra warm dry clothing, especially hat and gloves.

Spare oars, oarlocks and or paddles. Also lashed to the boat.

A longer handled landing net will help often. I like the softer molded rubber nets.

Staying close to shore will only be safe if theres no big boat wakes rolling in to the beach. It doesn't take much of a wake to flip you over. And being turned turtle near a rocky beach can be truly catastrophic.

Tide and current charts are great for trip planning, safety, and knowing your waters. And you can find more fish if you know what the tides are doing. This is essential information for a newcomer, for safety and for fishing.

Puget Sound is a fantastic place for small boat camping. Look up the Washington Water Trails program. They oversee a host of special campsites for human powered vessels. https://www.wwta.org/

Know your limits!

Cold water kills. Every year people die here.
Be prepared and be wise.

It's a great adventure.

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Mods, @b_illymac, Please consider pinning permanently to this page. It has as all the information one needs as a beginner or experienced person to safely navigate Puget Sound or any water.
One would spend a lot of time on a search function to gather the wealth of valuable material Bob has shared here.
Possibly may save a life.
Thanks.
 

bakerite

Active Member
Back in the day, I used to fish around Edmonds in my 8 foot pram. We would fish for whatever would bite, usually bullheads and some nice sandabs and sole if we were lucky. We never went more than about 100 yards from shore. My friend and I were collecting different species of crabs for science class and wanted some spider crabs which lived on pilings under the ferry dock, where we were when the ferry docked. We thought the ride was very exciting, up and down maybe four feet surrounded by barnacle encrusted pilings while maneuvering in the current caused by the ferry's engine. Luckily that just lasts a little while until they dock! Our one and only time under that dock, even though lots of nice perch hung out there.
 
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