Offshore Safety Checklist
Offshore check list! Here is a list, with explanation below of what safety equipment and gear you need to spend time offshore on a Jetski in the PNW. Disclaimer: this is just my opinion, and should be done in addition to all Federal, State, and Local laws.
Required: PLB/EPIRB Emersion gear VHF radio with DSC GPS navigation life vest Cell phone Distress signal Horn/whistle Buddy boat/Jetski Float plan Tow rope Compass Tool kit & fuses
Optional: Nav lights Swimming flippers Helmet
Emersion gear: dress for the idea that you could spend hours in the water waiting for someone to find you. Dry suit or wet suit - just make sure it’s tested and working right before you go. PLB/EPIRB: satellite rescue beacon. Best $300ish you’ll ever spend on something you never want to use. PLB attach to person, & EPIRB to vessel. I keep a PLB on my life vest. VHF radio: handheld bare minimum and only if staying near shore on short trips. The battery and signal distance are not ideal for primary use. Fixed mount radio is the better option with handheld backup on person. The DCS capability allows you to register a MMSI #, which if needed, you can hit the distress signal and who you are & where you are will be broadcast out that you need help. I highly recommend the extra $ to get a radio with GPS built in, redundant to other gps devices. GPS navigation: basically a fishfinder with GPS built in and navigation maps. This will be the primary tool for navigation, marking good fishing structures, finding fish. Learn the features of the unit, have it display the battery voltage so you can keep track of your ski battery. Life vest: required by law. Lots of options here, look for something impact rated, and keep the fit snug while underway. Pockets & straps to attach PLB, radio, whistle & cellphone in water proof case are a plus. Cell phone: mind your phones battery, take an extra charger battery or install a USB port on your ski. Download the Navonics App, or other similar navigation app & use this as an emergency backup only. A cell should not be your primary navigation or communication... but it is a reliable backup if you mind the battery. Turn off WiFi & Bluetooth. Distress Signals: required by law. Several options here. Mind the exportation dates and batteries. Keep it waterproof. Horn/whistle: required by law. Can help in locating you in poor visibility. Buddy ski/boat: safety in #s. Groups of 3-5 skis I’ve found are best. 3 minimum because if someone needs towed, all the weight can go on one ski and the other can do the tow. 5 max because it starts to get difficult keeping track of more than 4 other skis in the open water, and a person could easily get split from the group without anybody noticing. Another note on buddy boats, while they are good to have, you & them should be completely self sufficient and prepared for any situation to be handled independently. Float plan: someone on shore should always know where you’re going, when you departed & when you’re back on dry land. And have a determined time that they will call the coast guard if they can’t reach you. There is also a coast guard app you can download to file float plans with them prior to the trip. Tow rope: pretty self explanatory. Keep it about 30’ long. Compass: last ditch navigation, east will eventually get you to land...maybe not the land you were hoping for. Tool kit & fuses: Tools and parts to change spark plugs, tighten cables, clamp coolant lines in case of tow, & replace blown fuses. keep them dry. Nav lights: required by law if you are out before sunrise or after sunset. I don’t recommend going out at night, or in low visibility conditions. Many times I’ve been out at 1st light and nav lights are required. Swim Flippers: if you get separated from your ski & it’s windy or you’re in current, good chance you will not be able to swim as fast as it’s drifting.