Chapter 3: Launching and Operation

Local Hazards

Local boaters and marinas are the best places to learn more about any local hazards one may encounter. Also, check any local marine charts to learn about potential hazards so one can avoid them. Check to see if there are any local rules to adhere to, such as horsepower restrictions, the presence of any locks, and hours of operation.

Danger Rocks

Abnormal Tides or Currents: Any abnormal tide or current can affect control over the vessel, making it difficult to navigate and avoid certain obstacles.

Hazardous Inlets: These inlets create abnormal and often dangerous changes in water levels.

Low Head Dams: Low head dams are hazardous both above and below the dam. These areas are tricky because they are often difficult to detect. Their major danger lies in the hydraulic hole at the base of the dams, where higher water flows over the dam and lower water backwashes and recirculates. Small vessels, objects, and even people can get caught in this churn, creating an additional hazard of debris. Always avoid these hazardous areas and navigate around them.

Low Head Dam

Low Seasonal Waters: Seasonal waters that are dangerously low will not appear on any local charts. This is because these charts only display the average water level and do not account for seasonal changes. Be mindful that summer waters are usually lower, while spring water is typically higher. Be careful to anticipate this seasonal shift and to not run around. 

Obstructions: keep an eye out for any local obstructions like bridges, large commercial fishing nets, or channel openings.

Power Lines: Power lines are a threat for any vessel with a mast. Never take a risk and navigate under a power line that one is unsure one can clear.

Danger Power Lines

Shoaling Areas: Areas that become shallow gradually. This gentle incline is dangerous because it can be difficult to detect without local charts or knowledge.

White Water Areas: Areas that have the potential to quickly drag a vessel downstream. These areas can have rocks, debris, and/or strong currents which can very quickly and easily damage a boat.