While most people who own boats consider themselves to be fairly comfortable out on the water, there are still some general ideas and guidelines that should be followed for even the most skilled and experienced captains. Please keep these instructions in mind anytime you are charged with navigating a watercraft of any kind. See the safe boating tips below;
- Hone your Skills: If you are not yet an experienced navigator, or are unfamiliar with a new vessel, take the time to get familiar with the operating systems before departing. There are also a number of boating courses that can help you increase your expertise and comfort level before setting off on your own. Even veteran captains need refresher courses from time to time, and there is no shame in admitting that some of your boating knowledge may be slightly out of date.
- Mind the Weather: Find out what the forecast is before you decide to take the boat out on the water, and avoid trips in inclement weather. Make sure to mind the sky when out in open waters, so you can be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Weather patterns can change with little to no warning, and it would be unsafe for even an experienced navigator to be caught out in the middle of a lightning storm.
- Prepare your Passengers: Even if you intend to be the only person navigating, it is always a good idea to educate at least one of your passengers on the way the boat is controlled. In the event of your own injury or incapacitation, you will want at least one more person who can take the helm. Although this may seem overly cautious, it does not hurt to have a back-up if the unforeseen does indeed occur.
- Lifejackets: It may seem obvious, but most drownings occur because people choose not to wear life vests. Make sure you have enough lifejackets for everyone on board and they are all in good condition, and then encourage your passengers to wear them! It many places, having a life jacket available for every passenger is the law, so you risk citation if caught unprepared.
- Don’t Drink: Alcohol impairs your judgment and reduces your reflexes, so you will not be nearly as competent after imbibing. Many do not realize that the sun, the wind exposure, and the rocking of the boat can actually heighten the effects of alcohol, making you feel more intoxicated than you actually are.
- Ensure Passenger Competency: Prior to beginning your boating excursion, verify that all passengers aboard can swim. This is important in all situations, but becomes extremely vital if you will be in open ocean waters, where the risk of drowning in much greater.
- Common Sense: This is perhaps the most important recommendation of them all. Use common sense at all times. Make sure to stay within safe speed parameters, always stay alert, steer clear of large vessels or those with diminished visibility, and always utilize navigational aids if available.
Please follow all the safe boating tips mentioned above.