What started out as a beautiful day on the water, soaking up the sun and listening to music, can quickly transform into a life or death situation.
Whether it’s rough seas, a drunken passenger, or a health-related emergency, knowing how to prevent these situations is key to ensuring the safety of you, your passengers, and your boat.
Not sure where to start when it comes to ensuring boat safety? Continue reading for some of the most crucial tips to keep everyone onboard happy and enjoying their day on the sea.
1. Pre-Sail Checklist
Before you embark on your journey, it’s crucial to go through and review different aspects of your vessel to ensure everything is in working order.
You’ll want to make sure you have enough fuel, food, and water to last the duration of your trip, with extra supply in case of an emergency. Don’t forget identification, like your Florida boating license and boat insurance information.
You should also check to make sure safety items, like first aid kits and fire extinguishers, have not expired. Similarly, keep extra batteries and flashlights on board, and check the condition of lifejackets.
Next, you’ll want to check your engine thoroughly, making sure lights and alarms are functional and ensuring your fuel and oil levels are sufficient and free of leaks.
There are plenty of things to check before sailing off. A thorough check and regular boat care can keep you and your guests safe.
2. Know Your Boat
While sailing a boat is a ton of fun, the only way to do so safely is to ensure you’re fully confident and knowledgeable when it comes to your boat. Though sailing is part of the learning process, going alone could be dangerous.
Until you’re confident in your sailing abilities and how to operate your boat, never sail alone or with an inexperienced sailor. Always have a seasoned boatsman with you should you need help or have pertinent questions.
If you have any qualms or doubts about how to sail or operate your vessel, it may be best to continue studying to guarantee a safe journey.
3. Lifejackets Are a Must
Though many will turn their nose up at lifejackets, these safety devices are crucial to keeping you and your passengers safe. Remember, adopting a “safety first” attitude does no harm.
You should keep enough lifejackets in varying sizes to keep your guests safe in case of an emergency. If you have a dog on board, ensure that you keep a lifejacket for the animal on hand as well.
It is also an established law that children must wear a lifejacket unless they are in an enclosed area or below deck. This rule varies by state, so be sure to check before bringing any children aboard your boat.
4. Keep a Form of Communication on Board
While you may think your cellphone will be able to help you in case of an emergency, you may not have enough battery to make a call or be out of range for cell service, depending on where you sail.
Whether you’re sailing the open waters of the ocean or have an outing planned on the lake, keeping extra forms of communication is key to safety.
You should have a backup cellphone that remains fully charged onboard. Similarly, a VHF radio is detrimental to keeping you safe in case of an emergency.
A VHF radio can reach up to 30 miles, thanks to the high frequency they emit. Every boat should have a radio on board!
5. Watch the Weather
Before you head out on the water, you’ll want to check the weather to ensure that the weather is calm. Be sure to check both short and long-term forecasts to ensure you steer clear of any storms.
You’ll want to check temperatures, precipitation, humidity, and wind speed. These factors can impede your trip and make for dangerous conditions.
Also, be sure to check visibility and tide information before heading out to sea. Remember, don’t try to tempt mother nature. It’s best to delay a trip than to wreck your boat in the middle of a storm!
6. Captains, Take Charge!
When your passengers arrive, be sure to give them a rundown of vital vessel safety tips and rules before you leave the dock.
While many use boats as a way to party and drink, setting guidelines for safety, such as telling guests to enjoy themselves, without going too far. The last thing you want is an intoxicated passenger going for a swim.
Your guests should also be aware of the whereabouts of emergency items, like first aid kits, life jackets, and fire extinguishers.
Taking charge helps keep your passengers in check, and gives them confidence in you and your boating abilities.
7. Adhere to Boating Laws and Signs
One of the most important safety tips is to stick to boating laws and signs you may see while sailing.
Just like operating a car, boating has a set of laws that will differ from state to state. Adhering to these laws will the safety of yourself and your boat. Be sure to familiarize yourself with state laws before heading out.
Avoid ignoring any signs you may see while boating. These signs have been put there for a reason and are intended to keep you safe whilst aboard your boat.
Boat Safety Will Make Your Trip Exceptional
Though the safety information you’ll need to keep in mind may be overwhelming, boat safety is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of you, your passengers, and your vessel.
Boats are a pricey investment; keeping them in good condition through routine boat maintenance and care is key to keeping your vessel safe for sailing. Enjoy your trip, and stay smart!
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