In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. Charles Lindbergh 

Step 1: Prepping the boat for new territory was purchasing, installing and learning to use a reliable chartplotter. After much research and recognizing reliability and simplicity was more important that "bells and whistles". I purchased a Humminbird 365i which incorporates sonar and GPS in a small and understandable system. One major bell was the fact that it had connectivity through NMEA. (More on this later.)

Rhon and I made several trips on Lake Murray learning to utilize the features I fet we needed to master for safety. I can now run a route without visual aides which with the reefs in the lower Keys is a must.


Step 2: I had a VHS radio in an earlier boat and used it primarily for finding fish on the lake, but I wanted one this time purely for safety reasons. Again after much research I elected to purchase a West Marine 580 DSC VHS radio. The radio is simple to operate and had one very important feature that was NMEA capability.

After registering the radio and getting a specific Coast Guard # for the radio I am able to connect the Graphplotter to the radio so that in an emergency situation (unless it is no battery) a single flip of the switch will notify the Coast Guard of my boat details and provide them with the latitude and longitude of the boat. (Psst it's the black one.)

Of course adding it to the boat required some boat modification for all of it to be secure and functional.

VHS Radio

Step 3: Safety and Coastal Regulations are primarily a matter of common sense and most regulations are the same from Lake Murray as the coast. Lake Murray is considered navigable waters so under the auspices of the Coast Guard. I would just like to see them jump one of their cruisers up and over the dam. Would be a neat trick.

So noise device, paddle, life jackets are pretty much the same. One of the additions had to be some signal flares. I had some but they had expired so this was an excuse to purchase some fresh ones. The size of the boat being in the mid-range led to some confusion but I finally decided we were required to have 3 day/night flares on board. I bought 4.

Signal FLares

Step 4: One new one addition was a dive flag for snorkling. Of course if somebody could see my fat butt shining in the water they are probably to drunk to be boating!!! Of course we had to get a flag pole for the boat and appropriate other flags.

Dive Flag

Step 5: One final addition concerned Luke. Despite many trips with him on the lake, due to the uniqueness of the trip we decided he needed a life vest. And due to his size it had to be big! Tada!! I'll have a pic with him modeling it as soon as Rhon shows me how to get one transfered.

Luke's Life Jacket