LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - As the weather begins to improve and people enjoy the outdoors, it's important to remember boating safety protocols and how to get prepared to go out on the water.
After a long winter, many are getting their boats prepared to enjoy the weather again. Ross Martin, a salesman at Power House Marine, said there are a few things owners need to do in order to prepare their boat. Right now he said it's important to have patience.
"This time of the year, everyone wants to have their boat right now and sometimes it gets impossible. We have lots of techs here that are working, trying to get everyone out on the water and everyone has to be patient and wait," said Martin. "There's a little bit of a supply chain so if you're replacing any parts, replacing a prop, doing any work at all that needs to be done on your boat, the supply chain has been disrupted by COVID so everyone is working hard to get things in for the customers."
Martin said they have been greatly impacted by the problems with the supply chain.
"Right now, if you ordered a boat from us, you are months out from getting a boat because they dealt with issues with COVID and if anyone got it they would have to quarantine," said Martin.
The cold weather and damage in Texas also affected their ability to get boats in because one of their suppliers was partly destroyed which means they can't produce the parts necessary for certain boats.
As far as preparation on your boat goes, Martin said there are a few things owners need to do:
"You want to make sure you have fresh oil in the gear case and fresh oil in the lower unit," said Martin. "If you put a lot of hours on it last year, that certainly applies. If you haven't put a lot of hours on your boat you might think about going right into it but you can have it professionally done."
He explained that you can have the oil change professionally done or you can do it yourself with the proper equipment. In the La Crosse area, the more popular boats are Pontoons but there are a wide variety.
"In the last few years the Pontoons have gotten faster, bigger, and more comfortable," said Martin. "They are the most popular style of boat in our area because we have the sand bars and the beauty of the La Crosse area."
He explained that they also have duck boats and deep V boats which are popular for fishing. For first time boat buyers, he said there are a few important things to know.
"There is going to be a break-in period on your motors and then there will have to be an oil change once the motor goes out," said Martin. "If you've never been on the Mississippi, go with someone that's been on the Mississippi. Get some education about where the wing dams are, the main channel, and if there are uncharted waters you want to go into, don't go by yourself, follow someone in."
The most important thing is keep your eye on the weather.
Sergeant Bryan Cessford from the La Crosse County Sheriff said the one thing they want to remind people is to always have life jackets on board.
"Watercraft that is 16 feet and longer need to have a throwable device and if there's any enclosures and certain types of motors they need to have a fire extinguisher on board as well," said Cessford.
He also said with the water freezing and thawing there can be things in the water that people need to be cautious of.
"The river is always changing, There are hazards under the water that can't be seen which is rocks, wing dam, closing dams, and stump fields and things like that so just be cautious especially with the rising and lowering of the water levels," said Cessford.
Boaters also need to be cautious of speeds.
"There are a lot of no wake zones in our area that people boat on this part of the Mississippi River. Those are posted online and marked by signs and buoys when it gets a little bit later in the boating season here," said Cessford.
He said while they want everyone to have fun, they also want them to be safe so just always beware of other boaters and potential hazards.