Staying Safe on the Water – National Safe Boating Week, May 22-28, 2021

It’s National Safe Boating Week and a few days before the Memorial Day weekend. Are you ready for the swarm of boats on your favorite waterways?

As the unofficial kick off of the summer and one of the first big boating weekends of the season, Memorial Day weekend is one of the best times to remember how to stay safe on the water, especially during a time with possible crowded waterways.

Follow these tips to ensure a safe, stress-free, and most important, fun time on the water.

  1. Have a reliable captain on board.

Be sure that the captain driving the boat is a skilled operator who knows the vessel, waterways, and rules/guidelines of the region. Brush up on boating skills with a quick online course. Check with your state’s Boating Safety Education Law for requirements of those who must have a certificate of boating safety education with them while operating a numbered or documented vessel.

Always have a designated captain on the boat. Operating a water vessel while intoxicated is illegal and dangerous.  We’re all about having a good time on the water — we suggest celebrating once you are at your home dock.

  1. Know your route and the predicted weather. 

Plan where and when you are headed. Examine the local waterways for the crowd and potential boat traffic.  Be familiar with your surroundings.  Review charts for water depth, sandbars, channels, and even misplaced objects.  Check out your favorite weather app and see if the skies will be blue all day.  If there is a chance of unfortunate weather, have a plan of where you will seek a safe dock to tie up.  Dockshare offers spontaneous docking options for those pop-up thunderstorms.   

  1. Keep a good pace. It’s not a race out there.

The waterways aren’t places for racing.  There is no need for speeding.  Take your time.  Go slow and steady. Enjoy the ride.

  1. Be careful when night boating.

With reduced visibility at night, be sure that lights are working prior to leaving your dock and the sun starts to set. Check batteries and wiring of lights if necessary.  Keep lights on when cruising on the waterways. Always have an assigned lookout co-captain when boating in the evening.

  1. Check your stash of safety gear.

Stock up on life jackets and safety rings prior to your first boating trip.  Be sure they are U.S. Coast Guard approved and fit properly.  Remember kiddos need to wear the jackets when the water vessels are in motion.  Always know the location of the safety gear on your boat for quick and easy access.

  1. Keep skippers safe with Covid boating etiquette. 

With some restrictions being lifted in many regions, open water seems like the safe place to be; however, please remember that Covid is still out there.  Limit the people onboard to those with whom you are most comfortable. Maintain safe distance from others when docking or fueling up. Wash hands and keep hand sanitizer within arm’s reach. Best tip of all, enjoy the fresh air!

  1. Be sure to dock safely. 

Whether you are docking at your own personal dock, at a local attraction or restaurant, or renting a private dock for the day, it is important to approach docks slowly and steadily.  Be sure to keep a look for people or objects in the water. Determine which dock side you wish to tie up.  Have a co-captain help with direction of the boat.  Put out the bumpers and remember to keep those pinch points inside the vessel when docking.  Keep the area clean and free of clutter to avoid any accidents.  Check your insurance policy or with your agent to see what is and is not covered by your plan. 

Finally, practice makes perfect.  Be sure practice docking the boat and tying that vessel up just right.  The best knots make a difference!

It’s about to get busy. Keep it safe out there.

With one of the busiest boating season expected in years, increased boating traffic is headed to the waterways. Being safe is a must!  Do your part today so we all can enjoy the beauty and freedom of the water.