National Safe Boating Week is May 18-24. In 2017 the U.S. Coast Guard counted 658 deaths in the U.S. from boating incidents, with 75 percent of those deaths caused by drowning. Of those deaths, 85 percent are reported as not wearing their life jackets. For more see the National Safe Boating Council at www.safeboatingcouncil.org.

Memorial Day weekend is May 25-27. Be sure that all of your boat operators have a boating safety certificate. The certificate is required for any operator born after 1988 and is at least 12 years old. This includes personal watercraft. The certificate is issued by the TWRA and here is the procedure to follow.

First, go online or go to a license agency and buy a Type 600 permit for $10; this is your ticket to the exam. Be sure it is purchased in the student’s name.

Second, take a study course (usually no charge) from the TWRA Boat Tennessee Home Study Course, the U.S. Power Squadron, or the U.S. Coast Guard. Many classes are held locally that combine a study course with testing. Boating regulations for Tennessee can be found at www.tn.gov/twra/topic/boating-safety.

Third, take the TWRA’s monitored exam at the appointed time. The statewide list of scheduled classes can be found at www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/boating/

boating-education.html, or by calling 800-837-6012. Registration is often required. The exam can be challenged without taking the study course but it is not easy.

Here are several upcoming boating safety classes for this area. Bring your $10 Type 600 exam permit.

Two-day classes are generally 6–9 p.m. with test on second night; single Saturday classes are generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John Sevier Hunter Education Center, 2327 Rifle Range Road, Knoxville, 6-9 p.m., fourth Tuesday of each month. The next class is May 28, then June 25, etc.

Farragut Town Hall, May 20-21, June 15, July 20, etc.

Blount County public library in Maryville; call for appointment 865-982-0981/ext 4.

Bass Pro Shops in Kodak: June 8, June 22, July 13, etc.

To prevent problems with your boat that could ruin your outings and cost you dearly, Boat Owners Association of the U.S. (BoatUS) is offering an excellent guide to help you prepare your watercraft for another excellent season on the water.

The BoatUS spring commissioning checklist is at www.BoatUS.com/seaworthy/spring_checklist. It is nicely illustrated and organized into logical categories. First there is the “Out of Water” inspection of cables, wiring, hoses, zinc fitting, valves (seacocks), and the condition of the hull. Other category headings include: Engine and Fuel Systems, Outdrives and Outboards, In the Water, Battery and Electronics, and Trailers.

BoatUS is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters, providing more than a half-million members with many services, information, safety training, and government representation. Take a look at www.BoatUS.com.

Cut the cost of using your boat this season. The high cost of gasoline doesn’t have to limit your lake outings. Get more out of each gallon of precious fuel. Each one of the following tips can save a significant amount in fuel consumption, and that can really add up.

1. Tune the engine. This is a big one. Fouled spark plugs, dirty air filter, poor timing, a maladjusted carburetor or fuel injector, and weak compression — all of these waste gasoline. A tune-up can pay for itself quickly and performance is enhanced.

2. Tune the prop. Another biggie. Has it ever been done? A propeller with poor pitch or dings can waste as much as 10 percent of the engine’s power. And that translates to four miles-per-hour off of a 40-mph rig.

3. Clean the boat’s bottom. A not-smooth surface means drag, and drag is friction. Slime and mineral deposits have got to go.

4. Leave the extra “junk” at home. Unnecessary or never-used stuff in the boat’s lockers and storage areas can be a lot of unnecessary weight to be pushed through the water.

5. Trim your load. This one is easy. Help the boat plane off easily by balancing the load or by using trim tabs.

FAKE DUES: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has identified two websites that sell fake fishing licenses. Do not fall for their scam. You will lose your money and will not have a valid Tennessee license. The dubious sites are https://fishinglicense-usa.com and https://fishing

The correct places to go online for Tennessee fishing and hunting licenses are www.tnwildlife.org and http://gooutdoors

tennessee.com; or visit practically any sporting goods store (license agency).

ATTENTION TEACHERS: Attention, primary and secondary school teachers (and students): Here is an excellent lesson plan on conservation and the environment for grades K-12. The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has released the fourth edition of the Project WILD K-12 Curriculum and Activity Guide, an expanded and updated curriculum on environmental topics.

The guide contains six new activities with a focus on the ecology and conservation of bees, bats, reptiles and monarch butterflies, as well as stewardship activities relating to changing plant and animal life cycle events, and the reduction of light pollution, and includes information on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Every activity includes an outdoor component.

For more information about Project WILD curriculum resources or to learn about attending Project WILD professional development training, visit www.project

wild.org or www.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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