Voyageurs National Park

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Most visitors travel park waters by motorboat, although many also travel by canoe, sailboat, or houseboat. Boating safety begins with knowing your boat and how it works. Be sure to let fuel vapors disperse before starting your motor. Comply with federal and state regulations. One U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, such as a lifejacket, is required for each person on board. Better yet: Wear it!

Use nautical charts: They are essential because there are few topographic landmarks to guide you. Along main travel routes, a U.S. Coast Guard numbered buoy system guides boaters and marks navigational hazards. But off the beaten path, most rocks and reefs are unmarked. Watch for floating logs too.

Mastering the "Rules of the Road" and knowing navigational aids will help you boat safely. Know distress signals and carry signal gear. Don't overload or stand up in a small boat. Load your boat low end balanced. Riding any bow not fitted with railings is prohibited.

Heed weather forecasts: Tune to local radio stations 640 AM, 1230 AM, 93.4 FM, 104 FM, or 99.5 FM, or monitor a weather radio for NOAA broadcasts. Park rangers monitor marine band 16 for emergencies. When the water is rough, stay ashore. Storms can arise quickly and high waves are hazardous, especially to small boats and canoes.

If you are caught out on the water, find a sheltered cove and wait for calm.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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