My favorite weekend of the year is just about here – July 4th Fireworks! Living near Milwaukee we have numerous inland lakes in the area that offer over-water fireworks displays, including the “big bang” on Lake Michigan. Since many communities hold their displays on different days, we plan on 2 – 3 outings if possible on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights; Google has made such planning much easier. Here are a few tips that I have learned over the years:
- Plan ahead! Check the condition of the trailer, the boat, the boat safety equipment, and the tow vehicle the day before to avoid an unexpected issue. A flat tire, lights that don’t work, forgetting the anchor, or not having children’s life jackets can ruin the outing before it starts.
- Bring plenty of provisions! We like to pre-make sandwiches the day before and garnish with toppings on the water. We also bring more snacks than we think we’ll need like chips, cheese & crackers and the like to be self-sufficient for the full day. We typically bring 3 large coolers; one for food, one for a drink, and one for extra ice.
- Sun protection! If you’ve never spent a full day into the evening on the water, heed this advice! Bring lots of high-protection waterproof sunscreen (check expiration date), lip balm, hats, sunglasses, and “cool” towels. The all-day sun can be brutal if you’re not prepared.
- Get to the launch ramp early! As these events get ever-more popular, launch ramps get congested very quickly and parking may be impossible. We now get to the ramp early in the morning for a full day of fun. Like launch ramps, fuel docks are usually very busy and maybe closed after the fireworks so be sure to have plenty of fuel.
- Designate a Sober Skipper! These events draw considerable crowds of boats in close proximity that calls for situational awareness so it is best for the Skipper to be completely sober. FYI, these crowds also draw more law enforcement, and, this weekend is also designated as enhanced BUI enforcement, Operation Dry Water.