We are exactly one month away from the KLAQ Great River Raft Race and I thought  this would be a good time to share some of my maritime expertise with those of you planning to build your own raft and navigate it down the Rio Grande.

Along with each of these tips, which are from the National Safe Boating Council, I've included photos that I took this past weekend of the majestic waterway that we know as the mighty, rushing Rio Grande....

1.) Wear a Flotation Device

No matter how strong a swimmer you think you are, a personal flotation device is always a must. As you can see in the picture above, the Rio Grande may look placid on it's surface, but underneath it is full of treacherous eddies and swirling currents that make navigating it a challenge for even the most seasoned of sailors.

2.) Know Your Boating Navigation Rules

Inland navigation rules will apply during the Raft Race and that means, generally, boats will pass port side to port side. However, there are situations where this may vary and you need to be familiar with all of them unless you want to end up having to be rescued from certain watery death (pictured above).

3.) Seamen and Alcohol Don't Mix!

No matter how tempting it might be to enjoy a flagon of mead or your sailor's ration of grog, drinking of alcoholic beverages is highly discouraged. Take your eye off the river for even one split second and you could find yourself like the poor, wretched soul in the above photo: flailing, grasping, gasping and screaming for help that will never arrive in time. Yes, the Rio Grande is a harsh mistress, indeed.

4.) Know Mouth-to-Mouth

If one of your crew goes over the side and you are able to rescue them from the clutches of Neptune's wrath (unlikely) then you'll need to know how to perform artificial resuscitation.  Remember, putting your lips on another man's lips to save his life is only gay if you enjoy it.

5.) Never Ride on the Bow, Gunwale or Transom of Your Vessel

During the Raft Race you will be attempting to tame untold millions of cubic gallons of gushing, churning river water.  The Rio will attempt to take you under in a thousand different ways. We don't need any "Henry Horseplays" out there making her job easier, people. So remember our Raft Race motto: "Raft safe, or don't. It doesn't matter to us as long as you pay your 20 dollars".