This year for Mother’s Day, I picked out my own flowers at the greenhouse and asked my kids to vacuum out my car instead of a gift.
My husband gave me the reins for deciding what we would do for the day. I contemplated my options like hiking or watching a movie, maybe a romantic comedy. I decided he hit the jackpot in the wife department when I chose to go boating.
The weather was sunny with just a little bit of wind. We loaded the fishing gear into the boat and headed towards Lake Milton. It’s not a long drive from our house, definitely, enough time for me to get in a little snooze on the way.
When we first pulled into the boat launching area near Craig Beach, my oldest son was the first to notice ODNR officials doing boat inspections. My first thought was, why would they do that on Mother’s Day?
Then I realized fishing and boating were not typical activities for the day. Maybe the inspections were punishment for the men that should be celebrating the day with their mom or the mother of their children. More likely, the inspections were early in the spring in order to issue Vessel Safety Check decals before the busy boating season.
As we waited in line at the boat launch, I thought to myself, we’re never making it onto the lake today. When the ODNR official approached our vehicle, she explained that they were doing volunteer vessel safety checks. She would inspect our boat to make sure we have all the required equipment.
Does it look suspicious to say no? Does that put a giant target on your back while you’re fishing? We agreed to the inspection. I really love to go boating, but beyond a life jacket for everyone, I leave the other equipment in the care of my husband.
The officer began naming the requirements and we started scrambling over and around seats and tackle boxes to find everything. At the bottom of the well filled with life jackets, we did find our Type IV throwable device. It had seen better days but would work in an emergency.
In waters other than Lake Erie, a distress flag or USCG-approved signal is required during day use. We were looking in every storage compartment looking for our flag. We eventually found it still in the plastic packaging along with outdated flares.
The flag must be at least 2 foot-by-2 foot on inland lakes, 3 foot-by-3 foot for Lake Erie, and international orange in color with a black square and circle. The requirements for a distress signal on Lake Erie vary based on the time of fishing.
Before heading north for Lake Erie fishing, we will have to purchase updated flares. The fire extinguisher on our boat was a whole different story. Like the flares, it had an outdated expiration date. In all our boating preparations, we overlooked the fire extinguisher.
Our boat is a 1986 Sylvan that my dad purchased in the ’90s. He was the second owner. We spent many summer evenings on the boat fishing at Lake Erie and Lake Milton. He and my mom loved to take the boat to Lake Erie to fish for perch and walleye.
When the officer doing the inspection turned the extinguisher to find the date, we were all surprised to see 1985 as the date stamped on the bottle. She said we beat the standing record of the day for the oldest fire extinguisher.
My dad was always a stickler for details when it came to his fishing boat. I couldn’t believe that the fire extinguisher’s expiration date was older than the boat itself. After some research, I discovered that it wasn’t. The dates stamped on fire extinguishers are the manufacturing date, not the expiration date.
New fire extinguisher regulations were effective in April 2022. Fire extinguishers must not be 12 years older than the date stamped on the bottle. For boats model year 2017 and older extinguishers labeled B-I and B-II are valid as long as they are still serviceable and under 12 years on the date.
For newer boats, there are carriage requirements based on the size of the boat, and also the fire extinguishers must be labeled as 5-B, 10-B, or 20B. As it turned out, in addition to the hanging baskets and a car interior cleaned by kids, I was also getting a new fire extinguisher for Mother’s Day.
Fish were jumping
After the inspection, we were able to spend some time fishing on the south end of the lake. We had the most luck in the shallow water, about 5 to 6 feet deep. I loved being on the water after a long winter.
Even more exciting than being on the water again, was watching fish jumping out of the water around the boat. Using a jig head and minnow, our catch of the day included catfish, walleye and white bass.
Our trip coincided with the beginning of the spawning season in Ohio for white bass, as they prefer water temperatures to be between 54 and 68 degrees. It was a beautiful start to a fun season of boating.
Even though initially I was annoyed with an inspection, I am confident that our boat is now stocked and ready for many safe fishing trips this summer.
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