I want to share with the membership of the BOC some things that will insure that you have a good boating experience on the water. When you are underway I think you should have your life jacket on. If you have any kind of medical condition I think you should wear your life jacket at all times. If you state does not require children to wear lift jackets, I think you should insist that they wear one. You should have a life jackets available for all people traveling in your boat. You should have a throw cushion in your boat at all times, along with 30 to 50 feet of rope. Make sure that your bow and stern lights are functioning prior to leaving the dock and that the batteries that supply them power are charged. Have extra bulbs on board in case a light burns out. Have a flashlight or LED on board for emergencies and other uses. It is not a requirement that you have a flare gun in your boat, but it is a good idea. A first aid medical kit does not take up too much space and can come in handy for minor injuries. Taking a CPR course might benefit a love one or friend if the need arises, the Red Cross or local YMCA might offer these courses. Pliers, screw drivers (flat and hex), adjustable wrench, electrical stuff, etc. can come in handy if the need arises. A VHF radio is a must. Not only can you talk to your buddies on the water. You can get small craft warnings, make emergency calls on channel 9, or hit the designated red button for emergencies. If you have a GPS, you can connect it to your VHF and the EMS people, Wildlife Officers, Lake Patrol or USCG can find you without you giving them directions. A water safety course offered by the USCG Aux or others in your area would be benefical to you. Having a lake map of every lake that you fish on is a must. Having a GPS system offers you the ability to inform others of your location by the coordinatic displayed on your sonar screen or topo/lake map on your unit. As mention earlier, this info can be transferred to your VHF radio with the right harness system. Seeking a safe harbor/shelter when a sudden storm comes up. Knowing when to break anchor when the occassion arises. Knowing who has the right of way on the waterways and knowing which type vessels have the right of way. Full knowledge of what the channel signs/markers mean on the lake or river that you are on. Again a boaters safety course would help you with this knowledge. A proper classed fire extinguisher on your boat. Knowing when to smoke on a boat. How to put out a gasoline fire or other types of fires on your boat. Almost last, but not the least, common sense. Piloting a boat is almost like driving a car, stay on the right side of the channel, pass the boat that you are coming upon (from the rear) on the left if it can be done safely. Stay to the right when you are meeting another boat/craft. Give way to larger vessels if they are in your lane/channel even if they are in the wrong, because you are the one who will receive the most damage. Travel at a safe speed for the conditons that exist. Give way to boats under sail, canoes and other crafts using oars. If you are on the water at night, slow down and pay real close attention to everything in front of you and to your right and left. If you have had a recent down pour, watch out for floating trees, lumber, etc. in the water ways. Under these condition, you should have your life jacket on and so should your passengers. If you get to the boat ramp and everything is fogged in, don't go out, just go back home or wait until it lifts. A GPS system along with the on screen lake map might help you out if you go slow, but there might be a fool out there that is not going slow and therein lies the problem. It is always better to be safe, than sorry.