Millions of people across the United States will be boating on Labor Day Weekend to celebrate the last days of the summer. Exploring our nation’s beaches, lakes, rivers, and waterways is a wonderful way to enjoy the end of the boating season, but - as always - boating safety must remain a priority. With a growing number of inexperienced boaters on the water, it is very likely to get into an accident. Responsible boating is required, especially during Labor Day weekend, to ensure the safety and ultimate enjoyment for you and your crew. Following are some useful boating safety tips to help you keep you and your crew safe.
Recreational boating is probably the number one attraction for Labor Day Weekend. Some will take their own boats out, others will be taking a ferry ride, go to a Labor Day Weekend party on, or by boat or charter boats. Many will take on the water on board a PWC (Personal Watercraft, AKA: Jetski), or paddle on kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand-up paddle boards. Add to that the traffic of commercial traffic, on water parades, and law enforcement boats - and we’ve got mayhem!
In order for you to keep yourself, your crew and your boat safe, make sure to reduce your speed so that you will be able to make quick adjustments, such as a course change or a complete stop. Always follow the rules of the road:
- AVOID COLLISIONS AT ANY COST!
- Give way to less maneuverable vessels
- When overtaking other vessels - give way to the overtaken vessel
- Communicate effectively with other vessels by making your intentions clear, and be prepared to get out of the way when in doubt about the other vessel operators’ intentions
Getting on the water is exciting and many times a lot of people want to tag along. Follow your boat capacity guidelines. If you are not sure what is the maximum passenger capacity of your boat - now is the time to find out. Newer boats will have a decal displaying this number, and if you cannot find this number anywhere on board - check out the internet to find information about your boat’s capacity or boats of a similar size. If your boat can accommodate a larger number of passengers, make sure to assign crew to help you make sure everybody on board is feeling well and safe, and report back to you in case they recognize someone or something is wrong. Another this to remember - make sure you have enough coast guard approved life jackets on board - at least one life jacket per passenger. And don't forget to have a coast guard approved children-size life jackets too!
Whether you are boating during the day or after dark, make sure to:
- Have your navigation lights on and visible to other vessels
- Assign additional crew to look out for other vessels
- Familiarize yourself with the security zones or special holiday on-water events and regulations. The best way to find out information about security zones and on-water events in your area is through the US Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners.
- Remember that darkness impairs your distant sight, and objects may seem either farther away or closer than in reality. Slow down and maintain a sharp lookout at all times.
Drink a Lot of Water - Less Alcohol
Boating under the influence is reckless and alcohol consumption is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for around one-fifth of marine casualties. Alcohol and boating do not go together, and drinking is not worth ruining your holiday and possibly your life and/or the lives of others. During this time of the year, the temperatures are still high, it might be humid - which will bring the heat index even higher. The sun creates a glare on the water and sweat on your skin. Loud engines and high winds may make it challenging to hear others on board the boat. You and your loved ones are probably having a lot of fun swimming, water skiing, and taking turns jumping from the swim platform. Dehydration will make you tired and less alert. And if you add alcohol - you are looking at a ticking bomb... The consequences are impaired judgment and slow reaction, which are detrimental while trying to steer and navigate your boat responsibly.
Remember: the US Coast Guard and other recreational boating authorities will take you off the water if they find your behavior reckless. In the event of a boating accident, you may even be prosecuted with a felony charge. Boat operators must treat driving a boat with the same caution and care they exhibit in operating a motor vehicle. When drinking and driving, you not only risk losing your boating license but also risk the lives of everyone on board your vessel. For those interested in learning more about boating safety, you can look for a boater safety course online or at your local community college.
Maintain Current Boat Insurance
Getting a comprehensive boat insurance policy will give you an extra peace of mind. Ahoy!'a marine insurance policy is offering on top of regular liability coverage and collision coverage, additional unique coverages, to name a few: coverage for your cell phone if it falls overboard, provides stolen boat retrieval assistance, fishing equipment, on-water towing services, wreckage removal and much more.
Pelican Pete's Pro Tip:
The Ahoy! mobile app gives you access to our patented Safe Navigation feature, which will alert you in the event you are nearing obstacles - both underwater and above water. To find out more about our app visit our website and read about our technology-empowered insurance: https://www.ahoy.insure/technology/