Regardless of your experience, it’s always best to refresh yourself in terms of boating safety before heading out to sea. After all, accidents happen and it won’t matter if it’s your first or nth time on board.
Boating safety is clearly a very wide subject, but the following can get you started on the right sail:
Sign up for a boating course.
All boaters, old and new, are welcome to take boating safety courses. The cost is usually very reasonable and can often be completed within a day, whether it’s online or traditional.
Take advantage of a free boat safety check.
You can bring your boat to the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons which can both examine your vessel for free, alerting you to any safety hazards based on state and federal regulations. Not only is this test free of charge. It also includes virtual vessel exams that can really go a long way in ensuring boating safety.
Have a checklist before you sail.
When planning a boat trip, spend time making a pre-departure checklist. This will help ensure that you don’t leave any safety concerns out before you head out.
Know your weather.
When it comes to boating, never ever take the weather for granted. We all know why. Very importantly, don’t just focus on your local weather. Consider water conditions along your route as well, and of course, in your destination.
Master relevant nautical rules.
Keep the right lookout and take heed of buoys and other steering aids – they’re all there for a reason.
Have at least two skippers.
There should be at least two experienced skippers on the boat so that someone can take the primary operator’s place when necessary.
Have a float plan.
You can leave your float plan with your friends, relatives or your local marina – it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that some people know where you’re going and when you are expected to return. A float plan should also include the names, addresses and contact numbers of all people involved, the itinerary, and the communication devices on the boat.
Use life jackets properly.
Before you go, make sure each person on the boat has been assigned their own life jacket. Regulations may vary from one state to another, but in most cases, watersports riders and anyone below 16 must wear a life jacket all throughout the trip.
If possible, don’t bring any alcohol.
As you may know, manning a boat while intoxicated is against the law. Almost 50% of boating accidents are caused by this, so make sure you have a sober skipper with you.
Educate yourself and your passengers about carbon monoxide.
Keep air circulation healthy in every corner of your boat. All passengers should be aware of CO poisoning symptoms and where this toxic gas can gather up.
Use common sense.
Lastly, maintain a safe speed during your trip, especially in crowded areas, be vigilant and avoid huge vessels that take a while to shift directions or come to a full stop.