Boating is a lot of fun. However, it also comes with a variety of potential dangers that you need to be on your guard against. Thankfully, as long as you’re following a few simple best practices, there is no reason why the sheer joy of being out on the open water should ever be spoiled. Here is a list of things to do to keep you, your crew, and your passengers safe.
Get a Free Vessel Safety Check
The United States Coast Guard offers complimentary boat examinations to check that your vessel’s safety equipment is in line with state and federal regulations. Taking one is free and very useful. You will be in no doubt as to whether your safety provisions are up to scratch.
Do a Consistent Pre-Departure Check
Draw up a check-list (or have someone in the know provide you with one) that you can run through before each and every trip. It’s the best way to ensure you won’t get out to sea only to find you’ve left something crucial behind.
Watch the Weather
Check weather forecasts well in advance of your planned outing and continue to track any changes up until the day. If conditions seem set to take a turn for the worse, do not take your boat out.
Know the Rules
If you don’t already know them, familiarize yourself with the USCG’s Navigation Rules. Watch out for buoys and other aids that have been placed there for you, and be careful of other boats around you.
Set up Contingency Plans
Have a second skipper on board – someone who knows the operations of your boat and can take over in an emergency. Also, devise a float plan: speak to someone staying on shore and tell them where you are going, how long you plan to be gone, your boat type and registration, personal details of everyone on board, and all available communication methods on your vessel.
Make Everyone Wear Their Safety Gear – No Exceptions!
You are the captain and everyone’s safety is in your hands. Enforce the rules and do not take ‘no’ for an answer.
Use Common Sense
Travel at a reasonable speed and watch your path as you would watch the road when driving. Be respectful and observant; steer clear of danger well in advance. If there is alcohol on board, make sure that it is not consumed by anybody involved with operating the boat. Let the passengers imbibe if they must, within reason, but the designated skipper needs to abstain.
Just a few simple rules are all it takes to ensure that you fully enjoy your boating experience.