July 2007

Arizona Boating: It’s Amazing!

By Ed Huntsman
Arizona Game & Fish Department

Those of us who have lived here for any length of time are often taken by the awe of newcomers to the Sonoran Desert when they learn there are so many different and varied boating opportunities within an easy drive of Arizona 's largest cities of Phoenix , Tucson , and Flagstaff .

 In fact, by any standard, some of the world's most spectacular power boating is within an easy and short drive just north of Flagstaff at Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Sailing? Try Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, or Arizona 's inland waterways at Lake Pleasant or Roosevelt for sail boats or boards. These waterways rival small-boat lake sailing anywhere in the country.

Kayaks as well are abundant among Arizona's shorelines, carrying campers and conservationists in search of a closer look at nature, as are those in canoes, paddling on Arizona's mountain lakes above the Mogollon Rim north of Payson and on other Arizona mountain lakes across the state.

Even Right In Town

And, for those who just don't have the time to leave the boundaries of one of the country's largest cities, don't overlook the boating located in the heart of downtown Tempe on the Town Lake where college students and others row their sculls, practicing for national and international races with visions and dreams of Olympic competition yet to come.

War canoes with chase boats, Laser's, Sunfish, small catamarans and open daysailers all silently compete for the winds on a lake between two of the country's busiest freeways, I-10 (US 60) and the 101 loop in the middle of one of America's most cosmopolitan settings.

 Don't overlook the numerous urban lakes around the state's larger cities that also allow small-boat sailing and electric trolling motors on larger patio boats. Many of Arizona 's property owners enjoy the pleasure and convenience of a dock in the backyard right in the middle of a major community.

  Arizona 's west coast along the Colorado River is the site of some of the most beautiful and striking shore-side housing imaginable, offering year-round boating a stone's-throw away from the back porch! A sight-seeing trip on one of the river's jet-boats will confirm that sunsets there rival those that can be experienced anywhere on the planet.

But, Boat Smart

But, with all these breathtaking vistas, many of which are available only by boating, comes a reminder that as we approach the warmest part of Arizona's year-round boating season we need to remember to boat smart! Arizona Game and Fish Department wants to remind all of Arizona 's boat skippers of the Four Principles of Boating Safety:

1. Wearing life jackets saves lives – Wear yours!

2. Boating education saves lives – Take a class!

3. A safe boat saves lives – Get a vessel safety check!

 4. Sober boating saves lives – Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs!

Its not rocket science! Get a vessel safety check from the local deputy, Power Squadron member, Coast Guard Auxiliarist or game ranger. And, get into class to learn what you don't know!

Put everyone, not just the kids, in one of the new comfortable inflatable life jackets — this is a no brainer; there's just no reason any more to not wear a life jacket. Make sure you drink plenty of water as the designated operator and make sure everyone on board knows how to operate the boat in case there's an emergency.

And, Don't Forget The Basics

Take along all the “extra” items that will keep a good day good — plenty of sunscreen and a basic first aid kit, a VHF radio and / or a cell phone. (Don't depend on a cell phone being usable on Arizona 's remote lakes with all the hills and mountains. A VHF radio is far more likely to be useable in an emergency!)

A tool kit with extra parts is always a good idea as well in the event the motor's lower unit is damaged or the prop becomes unusable.

 We recommend in our boating-education classes that powerboat operators should always adhere to the Rule of Thirds — one third a tank of gas to get there, one third to get back, and one third as a reserve.

Always leave a note with someone who wants to see you again advising of where you plan to be boating, a description of your watercraft, a short list of your food and supplies, who is with you, and when you plan to return. That way, if anything happens, those looking for you will have a much better idea of where to start and what to look for.

  Arizona is a wonderful place to boat. Whether you're a sailor, paddler, or a power boater (and that includes personal watercraft!), there's a place for you to experience and enjoy your particular type and style of boating.

But, boat smart from the start! Wear your life jacket and boat sober so we can all enjoy Arizona 's boating—and keep a good day good!