On Air: What's ECOS? NY Sea Grant Has Answers to That and Other Boating Safety Questions
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News

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

June 11, 2021 — As more and more people get out on the area waterways, boat safety is more important than ever. Dave White is the Recreation and Tourism Specialist with New York Sea Grant.

This information was shared during a boating segment that aired on several 93Q programs, including Street Talk and Ted and Amy in the Morning. 93Q broadcasts on WNTQ-FM in the greater Syracuse region. 

The approximately 12 minute segment, which can be streamed below, runs from the around 14 minutes 22 seconds until the end of the program.

You can listen to White's full conversation on 93Q ...

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Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:05] Welcome to Street Talk, a public affairs presentation of Cumulus Media airing on our Cumulus stations in Syracuse. Street Talk is a weekly show keeping you in touch with the individuals and organizations that work for and serve our community. We're your hosts, Ted and Amy. Businesses have had to adapt more than ever to the new normal since this whole pandemic began. 

Speaker1: [00:14:19] Well, as more and more people get out on the area waterways, boater safety is more important than ever. Dave White is the recreation and tourism [00:14:30] specialist with New York Sea Grant.

Speaker2: [00:14:31] Our waterways are becoming busier, which is a wonderful thing because we're welcoming more and more people to the family of boating. I just saw a recent statistic, depending on where you are in the country, boat sales were up 10 to 20 percent last year. I was actually on a national Web site two days ago looking at some product in the first thing that popped up said, "we do not have kayaks available. We hope to have them available within the next month." That's how much product [00:15:00] has gone off the shelf and how many new families and friends we have now as part of our boating community. So, you know, making sure that they're taking a boat safety class, making sure they're looking at, you know, the type of vessel that they're on and, you know, a vessel is anything you can ride on or in, and that's where the whole paddleboard and the kayak become a part of it. You know, just having not only the safety gear, but, you know, the operational. How does it work? How do I how how can I be a good boater? How can I be part of this family out on the water?

Speaker3: [00:15:27] And if you're a new boater, you really have to be aware of [00:15:30] the new boating laws and regulations. Now, we have a law called the ECOS law. Is that how you say that?

Speaker2: [00:15:37] It is. It's the ECOS law, the emergency cut off switch. It's basically the kill switch on a boat and a lot of boats are designed with them on it. Most recently, all boats since 2020 have to have it on it. But a lot of boats, all personal watercraft and jet skis have it in. The new law that went into effect is if you have one installed on your boat, you have to use it because a lot of folks just ignored [00:16:00] it. They didn't attach it to themselves. And what it's designed to do is when you're on plane is if the captain falls overboard, the engine immediately stops. And what that really does, it protects the captain when they fall overboard to make sure the boat won't run over them or they get hit by the propeller, but also protects everybody else on board that they're not on a boat that's now out of control. So it's just it's a little strap, you know, like a little bungee. You can hook it to your life jacket, your bathing suit, your shorts, whatever you're wearing, so that if you do fall overboard [00:16:30] if you hit a big wave, you hit a big weight that you weren't aware you saw coming, the engine will stop. So that's that's the part of the new law that just went into effect for powerboats under 26 feet is you have to have it attached to you. Just another one of those good safety things, making sure that you're well-prepared, you know, to keep it to keep it fun on the water. And it's fun for everybody as well, because, you know, something happens to you and your boat is now, you know, out of control on the body of water. You don't know what damage that's going to do, not only to the people on board other boats in the area.

Speaker3: [00:17:00] Now, [00:17:00] these are for boats that have it installed. But if you have an older boat, then you don't have to install anything.

Speaker2: [00:17:07] You know, that's a great question, and I've asked that question for over a month to make sure I got clarification for folks because I have a boat from 1987. It's an inboard outboard power boat. It does not have one on it. And so I was asking that very specific question. So thank you for asking it. And the answer to that is no. If you don't have one onboard, [00:17:30] you don't have to go out and spend the money to have one installed. This is really for those that already are installed on board, you know, definitely all personal watercraft or most of them have it on it, you know, and now many more power boats as well. But great question. Thank you for asking, because I was asking that very same question of a lot of people to get good interpretation of it.

Speaker3: [00:17:52] Now, let's talk about Brianna's law as well, because that's another, you know, rule to keep in mind this summer.

Speaker2: [00:17:59] It is and, [00:18:00] you know, to remind folks that Brianna's law is it ratchets up by age and by 2025, everybody that operates a motor boat in the state of New York has to have taken the boat safety class and gotten their certification. And I always remind people that if you put an electric motor on a kayak or canoe or a small boat. It's a power boat. So you actually change a paddle board or a sailboat into a powerboat by putting an engine on it. And once you do that, you also need the certification. [00:18:30] But it's just great for everybody. I mean, paddle sport is becoming more popular and people are going to locks with them, you know, and they're out on every type of body of water. You know, everybody taking the course is just a wonderful thing because everybody will be safer. Everybody will be more comfortable on the water. And as I would remind people, you know, the upside as well is, you know, if you do have a power boat and you've got insurance on it, many insurance companies will give you a discount if you've taken the class. So there's actually a financial opportunity to get out of it as well. So make sure [00:19:00] you check with your insurance company once you do take the class, because you could actually save money on your insurance.

Speaker3: [00:19:05] Dave, run down all the things that people have to have on their boats, including, I mean, obviously the proper amount of life jackets. But the other things that really should you get stopped on the waterways they're going to check for.

Speaker2: [00:19:16] Absolutely. And the course teaches you that. You can also go on to New York State Parks' website, and you can download or look at the state boating guide. And in the state boating guide, tt [00:19:30] will list all of the required and recommended equipment by both sides because it is a little different. The larger boat you have, the more equipment you need to have on board. But you know, the baseline is life jacket for everybody under 12 have to wear U.S. Coast Guard approved. You have to have a sound producing device, be it a horn or a whistle. You have to have some kind of some protection device. And that is for all boats. Paddle craft on up through them. Then you get into motorized boats, you've got to have flares. They have to be current because  [00:20:00]flares go out of date. And I've done a lot of demos where I've used out-of-date flares and they don't work. So, you know, making sure that they're current, you know, your fire extinguisher on board, making sure it's charged, you know, hitting the little knob to make sure, doing the whole test to make sure it's a charged fire extinguisher, you know, in some cases having the anchor on board enough rope, you know, so you really begin to get all of these, you know, recommended and required pieces of equipment. I always loop back around. Make sure you've got the life jackets [00:20:30] on board. Make sure the kids under 12 are wearing them. Make sure if you're pulling anybody behind the boat, they have them on as well. I've seen a lot of folks that, you know, are not realizing that if you're being pulled behind the boat on skis, tubes, knee boards, they have to have a life jacket on as well.

Speaker3: [00:20:52] I didn't realize skis were not in anymore. Huh?

Speaker2: [00:20:57] Oh, you know. You know, when I'm [00:21:00] over at the cottage watching, you know, I'm seeing people ride on everything, you know? And I'm when I see somebody out there doing a slalom on a ski, it's like, wow, that's bringing back the old days. And my wife and I, we we make sure we ski at least once a year. My wife's grandfather skied until he was 75, so she told me that's our goal, that we're going to make sure we water ski every summer at least once until we're 75, you know, keep us out there and keep us on top and on plane, as they say. So yeah, you know, the skis, you know, we see them coming back a little bit. But, you know, for a lot of people, [00:21:30] you know, you know, if you were a skier back in the day, you know, took a little skill, it doesn't take a lot of skill to ride on a tube. It's sometimes easier just to pop out on and go. But I'm still a skier and haven't done one ski in a while. But, you know, and I'm from the day we all you were was a ski belt and those are the days gone by. And, you know, you got to have a life jacket on whenever you're being pulled behind the boat. And I certainly do as well.

Speaker3: [00:21:56] Just a couple more questions. I know last year, tragically around this time, [00:22:00] there was a carbon monoxide poisoning that was on one of the boats in the area. And I especially this time of year. Right, because you may be needing the heat as part of if you're staying on the boat, it could take a little bit about that just to make sure that all your equipment is working correctly.

Speaker2: [00:22:18] You know, absolutely, and that's where as you get into different sized boats or you're using the vessel for different purposes, you really need to be thinking about the kind of safety gear you need to have and making [00:22:30] sure it all works. In some cases, you do have a heater on a boat, you know, built right in or an air conditioner. So, you know, having, you know, smoke alarms on some vessels, having carbon monoxide detectors on vessels becomes critically important, making sure you've read the manufacturer in the boat manual as to how you operate them, you know, what times of day, if there are requirements or, you know, ventilation that you need to have. You know, I'm also seeing a lot of boats with grills on them, which is great. I mean, pontoon boat, [00:23:00] you can go out and buy a nice gas grill or a charcoal grill to have it attached to the boat. Again, you've now added something that's a little different to boating. So make sure you're really doing that in, you know, a safe way when you're setting it up so that when you're out on the water and you're having that great cookout, you know, your propane tank for your grill, you know, or where your grill is located is in a safe location on the boat or you've got the boat positioned well to make sure, you know, you're not having smoke come into the cabin.

Speaker2: [00:23:27] So it's all those kind of things that as we you know, as [00:23:30] we turn our boats into much more than they used to be in many cases, you really need to think about that you've changed the use of that boat and you want to make sure that you're thinking through all of the safety precautions. You might want to have all of the detectors you want to have on board, making sure you're storing propane tanks if you have them on board correctly. So it's just those additional steps when you've now taken your boat and turned it into a restaurant kind of thing that we need to be thinking about in you know, those are just good thoughts to have. And, you know, 15 minutes of prep before you go out checking [00:24:00] the trailer, you know, checking the tires, you know, checking the electronics. Those become critically important because also every year we hear about, you know, trailers coming unhooked or, you know, the electronics not working, you know, your brake lights not working. So all of those things become critically important as we prep for it. And that's all of the stuff we talk about during National Safe Boating Week. And to be Safe Boating Week is all about let's be safe to make sure we're having fun out on the water, because that's what it's about.

Speaker3: [00:24:27] And what would be the first steps, do you say, if people are thinking about [00:24:30] buying a boat, I mean, whether it be an inflatable kayak or a pontoon boat, you know, what would be the first steps to deciding what you want to get?

Speaker2: [00:24:41] The best thing you want to do as a family is to sit down and say if you were to buy a boat, what do you want to use it for? And make the list, because that will then head you in the direction, because you might have somebody say, I want a fish. OK, we want to have a boat and we can fish on. If I want to ski or two, we need that. Well, I want to [00:25:00] be able to go to the bathroom on it. OK, we need a boat that would have a porta potty. You know what? I want to be able to sleep on the boat. OK, we need a cabin or maybe a pontoon boat that's got an enclosure in it. So as you begin to think about all the things we're going to want to use the boat for. And a lot of people keep their boats for 5 or 10 years. So it's, you know, is the family going to grow, you know? So if right now we're just a young couple thinking of getting a boat, are we thinking about having kids in a couple of years? So we want to take that into account. So kind of do the inventory and that will begin to lead you and then, you know, [00:25:30] go to one of your local great, you know, marine dealers here in upstate New York.

Speaker2: [00:25:33] Or our Boating Industry Association friends and sit down with them and say, here's the kind of things we want to do on our boat. What do you have available? You know, we're thinking pontoon or we're thinking, you know, a nice 21 foot cuddie cabin. They'll begin to help you to say, well, here's a boat that you can do all of those things on, because that's really what you're going to want to be able to do, is provide each member of the family the opportunity to have fun, to do the things they want to do, because all of a sudden you get out there and, you [00:26:00] know, you bought a boat and it's like, wow, I wish I had thought about that. So really thinking about what do you want to do with it? And it's no different than, you know, when you're buying a house, buying a camper, you know, and those kind of things. What do you want to use it for? And that's going to lead you to the path of the dealer you want to go through to start that conversation.

Speaker1: [00:26:17] Find out more at NYSeaGrant.org. Well, that's it for this week's edition of Street Talk. If you have an issue to discuss or an event or nonprofit organization to promote or to find out more information about something you've heard on [00:26:30] this or past week's programs, e-mail Amy.Robbins@Cumulous.com for events allow two weeks in advance. Street Talk has been a public affairs presentation of Cumulus Media. We're Ted and Amy, thank you for joining us each week here on Street Talk.

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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