Warm weather and boating create the perfect mix. You’re outside in fresh air, the water is swooshing soothingly, and there’s relative quiet that you can enjoy away from the shore. You can fish, you can relax with a drink in your hand, you can waterski, you can cruise with your family, or you can just stare at the big blue expanse until your thoughts clear – what more could you want?
Grab a few friends and a cooler full of drinks, hop on your boat, and sail away!
But before you do, make sure you’re completely safe by following these tips.
Take a safety course
According to boating statistics, the top three causes of boating accidents in 2018 were as follows: operator inattention, improper lookout, and operator inexperience.
If you’re going to be the one who’s sailing the boat, then it’s up to you to keep yourself and everyone on the vessel safe. You’ve got to know exactly what you’re doing. Before you even consider anything else, take a nationally-recognized safety course – if you don’t, a fun boating trip might turn into a nightmare.
You can find a list of boating courses on the USCG Boating’s website right here.
Find the right boat
Consider what kind of vessel suits you. Do you want a tiny fishing boat just for yourself? Do you want a motor boat? Maybe your dream boat is actually a yacht. Consider things such as the size of the vessel, sailing mechanics, the amount of support staff you might potentially need, how many people it can receive, what the fuel costs be, and where you can dock your boat.
Always shop from experienced brokers, especially if you’re on the market for a luxury motor yacht or a similar purchase. This is a huge investment and you want to make sure you get your money’s worth and that the vessel you get is well-made.
Don’t let anyone whine about lifejackets
In 2018, 80% of people who died as a result of a boating accident weren’t wearing their life jacket.
Your boat, your rules. Don’t be afraid to tell people that they’re not allowed to step on your boat if they’re not wearing a life jacket. Yes, they’re awkward to wear and they don’t look particularly attractive, but they can save a life and they’re absolutely a necessity.
Stock the boat with the right equipment
Always check all your equipment before setting sail. You want to make sure that everything is in perfect working condition and that you have enough fuel to last you the trip. Imagine getting sucked in the middle of the ocean without any fuel to refill? It would be a stressful experience at best, and fatal at worst.
Some other things you want to bring are: anchor, pyrotechnic flares, orange distress flags, compass, sound signaling devices, pocket knife, lights, flotation devices, fully-charged mobile phone, and a medical kit. Your equipment should be clean and protected from water.
Are you the operator? Then don’t drink
It might be tempting to pop open a cold one, but there’s little difference between drinking and driving and sailing and driving. You need to be fully alert, and if you aren’t paying attention to the things around you because you’re a little tipsy, you’re likely to cause an accident and put someone’s life in danger.
Alcohol can wait for when you come back from the boating trip, and it’ll be that much sweeter to drink it after a great day of responsible sailing.
What happens if someone falls over?
If worse comes to worst, everyone needs to know exactly what to do. When you take a boating course they will teach you how to react should an accident happen, but it’s always a good idea for at least two people to understand all of the necessary steps to prevent a disaster.
If someone falls over, you want to make sure to stop the boat immediately and throw a flotation device towards whoever fell over. When you go to retrieve them, be careful not to tip the boat over. Call emergency services if you need to and have a medkit ready.
Check the weather
You can’t fight the weather, so don’t even try. A storm is particularly dangerous if you’re out at sea, so always check the weather forecast before you set sail.
Safety should always be your priority when sailing. If you follow all of the correct procedures you and your passengers can relax and enjoy the sun and the fresh air.