7 Best Boating Safety Strategies for Summer Fun
Leading up to Memorial Day weekend, boat owners around the country fervently count down the days ‘til they hit the launch ramp or the dock. The unofficial start of summer is one of the biggest and busiest boating periods of the year.
The rest of the summer is naturally pretty busy, too. Make it unforgettable for all the right reasons. These seven boating safety strategies will lead to a more successful and enjoyable summer for you, your friends, and your family.
- Don’t drink & drive
- Stash extra sunscreen onboard
- Watch the weather
- Work the water, too
- Keep to capacity
- Buckle up
- Know your limits
1. Don’t drink & drive
Just as you should never get behind the wheel of your car while intoxicated, avoid it while boating. In fact, since alcohol impacts judgment, vision, and balance, it’s even more dangerous when you’re at the helm.
That’s why Boating Under the Influence (BUI) carries thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time nationwide. Designate a driver or hire a captain if you want to enjoy adult beverages.
2. Stash extra sunscreen onboard
Boating safety strategies aren’t just operation-oriented. A bad sunburn can ruin a great day, so keep extra tubes handy for everyone who cruises with you. The only bright-red objects allowed should be beach balls, baseball caps, towels, and the star of a delicious lobster boil.
3. Watch the weather
Summertime storms can pop up pretty quickly. Therefore, keep an eye on the sky, looking for dark or billowy clouds. Additionally, if the temperature suddenly drops and/or the wind kicks up, head for shore.
4. Watch the water, too
The leading reason boating accidents occur is operators not paying attention. Even if you follow the Rules of the Road, other boaters around you might not be as experienced. Swimmers also may not pay attention to passing boats or to how crowded the waterway is getting.
Give them a wide berth and at low speed. Overall, staying alert is one of the best boating safety strategies.
5. Keep to capacity
By law, every boat has a designated maximum capacity rating. Know how many people your boat can carry, and stick to the limit. Overloading opens the door to capsizing. Furthermore, remember the gear you’re all taking, like coolers and beach bags.
6. Buckle up
No, we’re not talking about seatbelts. We’re talking about life jackets. The best kinds are ones that not only fit properly, but also you want to wear. It’s especially true of kids. Take them shopping for life jackets with their favorite colors, cartoon characters, or superheroes.
And, wear them whether you’re on your boat or on water toys like PWCs, paddleboards, and kayaks. While no one expects to fall overboard or to have an accident, they can’t help out if they’re stashed in a locker.
7. Know your limits
If you’re new to boating, a super-busy weekend isn’t the wisest time to head to the summer’s biggest hotspot. A weekday likely will be calmer, without boats jockeying for dockage or anchoring.
Similarly, though watching holiday fireworks from the water is awesome, navigating at night—amid crowds—can pose challenges. Consider booking seats on a special charter boat instead.
Make it a memorable season with a little planning and preparation ahead of time.
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A journalist with more than 30 years’ experience, Diane M. Byrne is the owner
of MegayachtNews.com, a daily website educating American superyacht owners, buyers, and
their circles of influence about the leading builders, designers, cruising destinations, and more.
She founded the website in 2007 as the first, and still the only, American-focused online media
outlet exclusively covering this market. It features all-original content, for real stories of real
Diane is additionally one of the most-sought-after journalists for expert editorial coverage and
commentary about not only superyachts, but also general boating and yachting. Her byline
appears in Boatsetter.com, DiscoverBoating.com, and the magazines Luxury Guide, Ocean,
Yachting, and Yachts International.
Additionally, Diane is the Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association, having been on the Board of
Directors since 2015. Outside of yachting, she’s a trustee of Sempre Avanti, a non-profit
resource supporting Italian and Italian-American individuals, businesses, and organizations in the
United States and Italy.