On Air: As We See a Seasonal Transition, Recreationalists Should Think It Through, Be Safe
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News


Dave White, New York Sea Grant, Recreation and Tourism Specialist, P: 315-312- 3042, E: dgw9@cornell.edu

Oswego, NY, March 15, 2022 - Whether you're an ice and winter enthusiast or that spring boater enthusiast, New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White says you need to take special precaution and just think it through a little bit more to make sure you're safe.

White spoke with WDOE News Director Dave Rowley about some related boating safety tips during this recent visit. 

WDOE 1040 AM / 94.9 FM's "Viewpoint" program, which is broadcast in the greater Syracuse and Oswego regions. 

Viewpoint airs on WDOE Monday through Friday at 8:45am. Dave Rowley has been handling the hosting duties for more than 20 years, interviewing local, county and state elected officials. Community groups are also featured on the 15-minute live interview show. Listeners email their questions to Dave, who includes those inquires in the interviews.

You can also listen to the entire "Viewpoint" program featuring Dave White of New York Sea Grant ...

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Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:00] It's time for breakfast with Meeder’s and Viewpoint.

Speaker1: [00:00:03] Start your day off right with a delicious breakfast at Meeder’s Restaurant in Ripley. Here's your host, Dave Rowley.

Speaker2: [00:00:09] And welcome to Viewpoint on our live line this morning. We have New York Sea Grant, Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White. Dave, welcome to the program.

Speaker3: [00:00:23] Thank you. Good morning. How are you today?

Speaker2: [00:00:24] Well, I'm doing well. Spring is almost in the air [00:00:30] and we're seeing this transition from a lot of ice cover on Lake Erie and some of the area waterways. And hopefully it'll be disappearing soon. But in the meantime, I'm sure there are a lot of people eager to go out onto the ice.

Speaker3: [00:00:52] There are you know, the use of the word transition is just great, Dave, because it is a transitional time, as we know. And [00:01:00] yeah, there's a lot of folks that are getting that last opportunity to be out on the ice. At the same time, we have a lot of people want to think about being out on the water in this time of year. In both cases, whether you're an ice and winter enthusiast or that spring boater enthusiast, you need to take special precaution and just think it through a little bit more to make sure you're safe. And the people that are with you are going to be safe and have a really good time out on the water, be it hard water or soft water. [00:01:30]

Speaker2: [00:01:30] For sure. And looking I took a look this morning at the latest NASA or NOAA satellite photos on Lake Erie and a lot of the ice has disappeared. There's still quite a bit at the eastern end of Lake Erie. Chautauqua Lake, which is very popular in these parts, still has a lot of ice on it. So people should be really careful. [00:02:00] What do you have some tips for people that might be venturing on the ice?

Speaker3: [00:02:06] You know, absolutely. And you and I have talked about it before. And, you know, I am an advocate of life jackets. But right now, life jackets for everyone is critically important. And, you know, you and I have talked about, you know, winter enthusiasts and, you know, to have your float coat or your float suit on that has basically a life jacket built into it. Absolutely awesome for this time of year when you're out on the ice so that if you [00:02:30] do fall through, it's going to do three primary things. Number one, it's going to float you. Number two, it's usually bright colored so folks are going to see you and it's really going to help keep your body warmth in and keep you surviving until you're rescued. Same thing when you're starting to go out in the open water. And a lot of folks like to go out right now in their kayak or canoe. Life jackets are required to be worn, but they serve that same purpose of, you know, keeping you afloat, helping you keep warm and making sure you [00:03:00] know where a bright colored one so that if our friends from law enforcement do have to come out and help you or your friends have to come out and help you, they're going to be able to find you easily.

Speaker3: [00:03:08] So, you know, top of the list, obviously, is a life jacket or float coat, float suit. And then thinking about the specific activity that you're in, you know, on the boating side, we call it a float plan, letting someone know where you're going when you plan to come back. You want to do the same thing if you're out on ice, whether you're going to be out on a machine or you're out [00:03:30] in an ice shanty, you're just, you know, in the old days, sitting on the bucket with a cushion on it, letting someone know that information becomes also critically important so that if you're not back when you said you were, they're going to know where to send somebody to help. So and a lot of us now go out alone during this time of year. You know, it's a great way to get out, really start to clear that head for spring. So especially being out alone, you want to do that and make sure somebody knows where you're going, when you're going, and most importantly, when you plan to get back.

Speaker2: [00:03:57] Now, we should remind [00:04:00] people about just how cold that water is. Hypothermia is a real concern, especially this time of the year.

Speaker3: [00:04:10] It really is. And I do a lot of in-water demonstrations and I specifically do them in cold water, you know, usually about 40 degrees, just to show people how that can happen and how you can lose your breath when you fall in and how it can change, you know, and how quick hypothermia can set in critically [00:04:30] important. I also like to share that with people that are going to be out kayaking or canoeing, because I must be a klutz because whenever I'm in the kayak or canoe, I end up getting wet. So even if you're going to be going out on that 60 degree day, it's a beautiful opportunity to go out in your kayak or canoe, especially kayaking. You know, I can put the little things on the paddle all I want. I'm still going to get water in the kayak and I'm going to be sitting in water by the time I get back. So those are the kind of nuances. This [00:05:00] time of year, we really need to think about because if I'm out there, you know, sitting in cold water in my kayak, it's really going to start to draw my body temperature down and it could get me in trouble and I haven't even fallen in the water. So it's those real interesting nuances as we're coming out of winter and into spring that folks need to think about whether they're going to be on solid water or soft water.

Speaker2: [00:05:22] Now, you mention about having those life jackets. What about clothing? What should people [00:05:30] keep in mind?

Speaker3: [00:05:32] You know, absolutely. You know, the clothes that you wear, you know, usually you're going to be wearing heavy clothes. So be cautious with that. And also, if you do fall in the water and you have flotation on, you want to keep your clothes on because it will actually help keep the heat in your body because it's something that is giving you a little bit of a barrier. There's some great websites you can go on and get really good information about protecting yourself. If you fall [00:06:00] in cold water, about hypothermia, you know, making sure you're in the help position, the heat escape, lessening posture or in the huddle, you know, getting in the fetal position to help keep your heat and body warmth in. Those are really good things just to touch up on at this time of year. And again, you know, you know, being able to go on, you know, any one of a variety of websites to really get some good information, to just have it in the back of your mind. And, you know, remember, if you're leading the expedition, whether it be, you know, on a boat, on a snowmobile, [00:06:30] you know, in the ocean, you know, you want to be really well aware and be thinking about what do you need to have the people you're with doing as well. So everybody's prepared because at the end of the day, it is all about having fun and you know, the better prepared you are then the less you have to worry about it and the more fun you can have. And being prepared is going to keep you from getting into trouble while you're out there.

Speaker2: [00:06:52] Now, the personal flotation devices. Any tips? As far you know, we're starting to think about boating, [00:07:00] the boating season right around the corner. Anything that people should keep in mind as far as what to look for.

Speaker3: [00:07:11] This time of year, I mean, throughout the year. But I think this time of year, it can be as important as is the jacket itself. Try to wear something that's bright colored. I know a lot of us in the summer, we want to have it match our sunglasses or a bathing suit or shorts or, you know, whatever it might be. But this time of year specifically, because it is such [00:07:30] a challenging time, you really want to make sure it's going to be easy for you to be seen as quickly as possible. So, you know, I suggest to a lot of people that you have different type of life jacket in a different color life jacket at different times of year, just so that you can really assist, you know, our friends in law enforcement or your friends if they're out looking for you. And I also want to mention our friends in law enforcement when they come out with a recommendation of please don't go out on the ice or [00:08:00] please don't go out in open water, because, you know, there's ice flows or there's debris in the water from recent flooding. When they give those warnings, they're not doing it to ruin anybody's day. They're really doing it to prevent you from having a bad day. And they're doing it to really help all of us be aware of what may be going on out on the waterways. So when they give those warnings, please heed them. And you might be disappointed, but you're going to you're going to have a good day at home or someplace else and not end up causing them to [00:08:30] have to come out with the helicopter or put their boat in to come out and rescue somebody. So those warnings start to come out a lot now, so please heed them because they're really doing it to help all of us to be of benefit.

Speaker2: [00:08:40] Yeah, it's just such a tragedy when we do see an accident happen this time of the year.

Speaker3: [00:08:49] Oh, you know, this time of year, every time I hear a helicopter go up, you know, whether it be, you know, on Oneida Lake or, you know, one of the inland Finger Lakes, and I hear or see a helicopter, I immediately think, [00:09:00] okay, who's out on the ice? It has fallen through. Their sled has fallen through. You know, I hope they get to them quick enough this time here when they're low flying over the lakes, you know what they're out against. So, you know, let's let's help them out as well. They've got a tough job and they don't need us being out, you know, when we really shouldn't be.

Speaker2: [00:09:19] Now, spring fishing by boat this is becoming more popular.

Speaker3: [00:09:26] Oh, absolutely huge. The number of kayaks that we [00:09:30] see out that are fully rigged for fishing, exceptional, wonderful opportunity for folks to become part of the boating family. But also, you know, when you've got your kayak fully rigged for fishing and you've got your gear on and you got your tackle box in your lunch box and your fishing poles, you really also have upset some of the balance on that kayak. So extra precaution to be thinking about because now you've got a lot of weight on there. You've got a lot of gear on there. And I have seen [00:10:00] many kayaks go over that are, you know, loaded with all the good fishing gear you want to have, but you've got to have good balance and you want to be thinking about that. And in kayaks and canoes really provide that opportunity. You know, throw it in the back of the truck and I can be out, you know, fishing in an hour. Also, remember, regulations for a lot of bodies of water, change from ice fishing to open water fishing. So you also want to check the most recent regulation for your favorite fish or your favorite fishing hole to make sure that you're getting the right size in [00:10:30] the right quantity.

Speaker2: [00:10:31] Yeah, for sure. As far as fishing gear, someone that wants to get into using their kayak is their special gear.

Speaker3: [00:10:42] There is. And it's something you really want to be thinking about. And, you know, all of our good local dealers, you know, in western New York that are part of the western New York Marine Dealers Association or are good boat and tackle, bait and tackle folks, they have some great gear that's specifically designed for kayaks [00:11:00] and canoes so that you try to keep the, you know, the weight balance low. You're not going high on it. And they can just provide a wealth of information about how you can do it in a good, safe way type of gear you need to have. So, you know, those folks can be really helpful as you're thinking about outfitting your, you know, kayak or your canoe for fishing. I've also seen some folks out on Paddle Boards fishing. I haven't figured that one out yet myself. You [00:11:30] know, I'm just visualizing somebody getting into a nice big, you know, salmon some place and it turned into a motorboat. But a lot of folks are starting to do that. And, you know, again, real special precaution when you're doing that. And you got to have much better balance than I do, because there's no doubt I would end up in the water instantly.

Speaker2: [00:11:47] Yeah. Yeah. Doesn't look like my cup of tea, that's for sure. Now, I also when we're talking about kayaks and kayak safety, [00:12:00] we really should take a look at the condition of the kayak itself. Inspection, right?

Speaker3: [00:12:09] You know, absolutely. You know, this time of year, to me, it's a double opportunity. It's the sadness of putting our winter stuff away. But then the next day, we start to get out our spring and summer stuff. And when we do, we need to check everything. You know, you need to be checking the kayak in the canoe, whatever boat you're going to be utilizing, a small tar top, you know, check them [00:12:30] for leaks, you know, see how they overwinter. You know, a lot of times, you know, mice or other rodents can get inside and they can eat away at things. So you really want to do that good spring checklist to make sure everything is in good working order and well-prepared. So regardless of what it is and then, you know, as we now do get into open water season, you know, a lot of folks may hit Chautauqua Lake in the morning and then they may hit Lake Erie in the afternoon or the other way around. So, you know, now is the time to get our minds back also [00:13:00] into making sure we don't transport invasive species from one body of water to another. And you've got to do that, whether you're doing a paddle board kayak, canoe, motorboat, sailboat, because those little critters can hide in a lot of spots that we don't normally think about. So we now need to retrain ourselves that that's going to become an important issue for us as we're going forward as well.

Speaker2: [00:13:21] And motorboats, now is the time to prepare, right?

Speaker3: [00:13:26] Absolutely. A lot of do it yourselfers like [00:13:30] to get out there and tinker and get things ready, which is great. But also, you know, your local boat and marine dealer would be more than happy to help out, do a good spring check of it and make sure it's in good working order. And again, it's like, you know, you know those folks that have cars that they only use in the summer versus winter, you know, the first thing they do is make sure they've overwintered well, that, you know, they haven't sprung any leaks, that everything is in good condition. So, you know, doing that, getting a good tune up, especially with fuel prices going up just [00:14:00] like your car, the better tuned your boat engine is. So if you haven't had your boat, you know, oil changed and tune up done, this may be the year you want to do that because you're actually going to get better gas mileage and if you want out of it as well. So, you know, a lot of things to be thinking about right now to get ready, but that's the excitement of the season, is getting your stuff ready to go and checking it out and getting the new gear out and getting it ready to go.

Speaker2: [00:14:24] Well Dave, as we wrap up our Viewpoint interview today how can people get more [00:14:30] information about New York Sea Grant? Also, the State D.E.C. is a good source.

Speaker3: [00:14:38] Yeah, New York Sea Grant you can, you know, go to our website, you know, just put in New York Sea Grant to your favorite search engine, but I am a real fan of what a great job our State, D.E.C. and our Parks Department are doing with their websites with just some great information and access to information. So, you know, when we're talking fishing and ice fishing and regulations, you know, D.E.C. has [00:15:00] got it all there. And when we're talking about boating and regulations and the gear that you need and signing up for your boat safety class for the summer, the state parks website does a really great job, so kudos to both of them, but they provide us a wealth of information that we can get access to that will will help all of us.

Speaker2: [00:15:16] Well, Dave, thanks for joining us on Viewpoint and sharing some of this spring fever with us.

Speaker3: [00:15:23] I love it. I love it. We're all getting it. It's going to be 60 degrees plus on Saint Patty's Day. So spring [00:15:30] is coming our way, but winter's not done with us yet, so plan for the transition and have a great time out on the water.

Speaker2: [00:15:37] You too, Dave. We'll do it again soon.

Speaker3: [00:15:40] Look forward to it. You have a great day.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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