Finer Floating

Pro tips for boat trips

I spend winter evenings thumbing through catalogs and browsing the interweb looking for the perfect accessory to outfit my precious boat. I love my boat. I mean I really LOVE my boat. The affection I hold for my watercraft is in no way unique; many people hold the same feelings for their own floatables. I know from years of hard-won experience, however, that a poorly outfitted rig can turn boating daydreams into Poseidon Misadventures. Therefore, I have compiled the following list of seven must-haves and must-dos.

Trailer Maintenance.
Before the season starts, have trailer bearings inspected and properly lubed. Make sure licenses and tags are current. Check your spare trailer tire, and keep the proper tire-changing tools on hand. Check the connections for the tail, signal, and brake lightsnothing says doofus like a traffic ticket on the way to the water.

Safety Gear.
Every person on a boat in Montana must have access to a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Persons under the age of 12 must wear a PFD at all times on the water. A quality throw rope or rescue bag is a must, as is a well-stocked first aid kit. Fifty feet of high-quality rope and a couple of carabiners can come in handy. Sunscreen, extra drinking water, rain gear, charged cell phones, and a dry change of clothes can also save the day.

Quality Dry-Bag or Box.
Water resistant does not mean waterproof. Spend the extra couple of bucks and your matches, camera, phone, and camp sweater will stay dry.

Quality Cooler.
Cheap coolers suck worse than the resulting warm beer. Like your boat, a good cooler is an investment in longevity. Not to mention the food, beer, and fish that taste better when properly preserved.

Fishing Gear.
Keep at least one rod, reel, tackle, and landing net in the boat. If you’re headed to the water, do so with a purpose. Throwing a line is a great way to keep the kiddos engaged. Don’t forget a current fishing license.

Good Grub.
The soggy PB&J or mystery-meat sandwich has no place in a properly outfitted craft. Instead, try a hearty sub with all the fixins’, or a fried-chicken dinner. Consider a portable gas grill—brats, hot dogs, and burgers can be easy and incredibly satisfying

Each craft is unique, designed and outfitted depending upon specific needs and desires. These tips may not apply in every situation, but during your floats this summer, always practice good river etiquette, give yourself plenty of time, and above all, be safe. 

Sunscreen SPF Ratings
There are hundreds of sunscreen options available, with SPF ratings up to 100—but what do these numbers really mean? SPF ratings are a measure of the time it would take you to sunburn if you were not wearing sunscreen, as opposed to the time it would take with sunscreen on. Sunscreen blocks UV light—specifically, the “B” variety, which produces sunburns—so higher SPF protection is better, right? Nope.

  • SPF 15 product blocks 94% of UVB
  • SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB
  • SPF 45 product blocks 98% of UVB

Anything higher than SPF 45 isn’t necessarily more effective. The important thing is to wear sunscreen and reapply it regularly. —Drew Pogge