Safe and enjoyable boating involves the way you handle your craft, the equipment you carry, the consideration you show others, and most importantly, your attitude toward operating a boat.
The following tips, although not all-inclusive, are meant to provide you with information to make your boating experiences in the area fun and without incident.
Safety within the boat – Your boat should be equipped with at least the minimum suggested safety devices, including the following:
- A fire-extinguisher in good working order.
- Lifejackets in serviceable condition and available to all on board. A craft under 16 ft. in length should contain a minimum of two lifejackets, a boat in excess of 16 ft. should carry a minimum of 3.
- Sound producing devices. Whether in the form of a whistle, horn, or siren, the equipment should be capable of a 4- second sound blast audible for a half- mile.
- Navigation lights. Regulations vary depending on the area, so it’s a good idea to check local ordinances. In any case, boats in excess of 16 ft. must have operable lights which are properly located as per U.S. Coast Guard specifications.
Safety afloat-Keep within the manufacturer’s recommended passenger capacity. Don’t overload. Be certain passengers know the location of safety equipment and how to use it. Adhere to the International Nautical “Rules of the Road”.
- Right-of-Way – Sailboats, fishing vessels, canoes, rowboats and other one- passenger craft almost always have the right of way over powerboats. Boats leaving a dock DO NOT have the right-of-way. When meeting another boat head-on, turn to the right, keeping the other craft on your left (port) side. When confronted with a crossing situation, the boat on the right has the right-of-way.
- Passing – Pass on the right (starboard) side, using a sounding device to alert the other craft of your presence.
- Speed – All watercraft should be operated at a safe speed that would enable you to avoid a collision. Familiarize yourself with the craft, its performance capabilities and its limitations, and refer to your owners manual for guidelines.
Bear in mind that boating offers only relaxation and escape from routine, not an abandonment of responsibility, courtesy, or common sense. The intelligent boater maintains vigilance over the safety of his craft and nautical etiquette, enduring pleasurable excursions.