Boating is a terrific pastime, especially in Florida where it’s almost always boating season! However, here are a few safety tips you should keep in mind, to make certain your time on the water is as enjoyable and safe as possible.
Before leaving, you should share your plan (including your destination and estimated time of arrival back at the dock) with a friend or family member. It’s also important to learn boating rules and your responsibilities before you boat. Know the waters you plan to navigate. Refer to local charts, and stay in marked channels.
Check your boat before departure. Make certain you have enough personal floatation devises. Don’t forget your fire extinguishers, and tell your passengers where you keep them. Check fuel levels. Test your radio. Make sure your lifelines and rails are in good condition, and surfaces are free from accumulated dirt or excess wear to avoid slippage. Is your bilge pump in working order? Do you have a manual bilge pump for back-up? Keep bilges are clean and free to circulate, and run blowers to evacuate fumes before starting your engine.
Check the weather before you leave, and keep a keen eye on the sky while you are on the water. Don’t take chances with menacing clouds. If you notice any sort of weather disturbance, it’s time to head in. Always monitor your gauges. It could help you avoid a major problem.
Finally, have fun! When good judgement is used, boating is great fun for the entire family.