Safe boating is something that we all believe that we do and think we know how to do, but the reality is probably somewhat less than is desired. Being a lifelong fisherman and boater, I recognize the fact that many of us take boating safety for granted way too often. Neglecting the simplest of marine safety basics cause way to many accidents and tragedies each year on our waterways. All to often we read about or hear about boating mishaps, boats capsizing or a myriad of boat stories that do not end well, all because of lack of pre-planning or the lack of general knowledge of boat safety.
One important tip would be to take a boating safety course. There are many courses available across the country for all types of recreational boaters, and for boaters of all ages. Taking one of these courses could mean the difference between a great day on the water with your friends and family, or a bad experience that you would not wish upon your worst enemy.
You can seek out qualified volunteer organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadron, and other sponsors that provide many safety courses that are open to the general public. Many state boating agencies also provide boat safety classes.
These courses will cover many aspects of boating safety, proper boat anchoring, safety equipment, boat handling skills, navigation, boating problems and emergencies, trailering, storing and protecting your boat, to reading the weather, and classes geared to courses for kids and younger boaters who want to learn boating and navigation skills. The most popular basic courses generally have from 6 to 13 lessons to provide a foundation of boat operational and safety instruction. Many boating classes will give you the knowledge needed to obtain a boat license or safety certification in many states. Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete boating safely course.
A safe boater will always have the appropriate nautical charts on board their vessel and will be familiar with their surroundings. The exact meaning of an aid to navigation may not be clear to the boater unless the appropriate marine chart is consulted. Also each boater should file a float plan with a friend or family member that outlines the days activities that are planned. This is helpful to provide the Coast Guard with a general area to search in case you are not back home in a reasonable timeframe.
It is also critical that your vessel have the necessary safety equipment onboard. The necessities include, but are not limited to, personal flotation devices (PFD’s) that properly fit each person onboard, visual distress signals, flares for both day-time and night-time use, bell, whistle, fire extinguisher, throw ring, cell phone, VHF radio.
It is also important to have an understanding of navigation, aids to navigation and the rules of the road. These simple, yet often overlooked basics lead to many unfortunate mishaps on the water. Aids to navigation are the road signs on the water and it is what controls how boats navigate and pass one another. Learning to understand them requires experience and practice.
Protect yourself and your family, be better prepared the next time you go boating.
There are many boating safety courses that are offered throughout the country for all types of recreational boaters, and for boaters of all ages. Boat handling as with many complex activities is part art and part science. The art of boat handling is developed with time and practice. The science is developed thorough good boat handling education, which if done properly can put piloting ones craft safely and competently within grasp in a relatively short period of time.
Taking boating courses can make boating more enjoyable, make you more skilled and safer boater. Most boating courses require several hours of classroom work taken over a number of weeks in a set schedule.
There are several volunteer organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, and others who sponsor many courses, and many state boating agencies also provide classes. These courses cover many aspects of boating safety. Many insurance companies will offer discounts on boat insurance to individuals who have successfully completed a boating safety course.
If you decide to take a boating course there are many options for you to choose from. Some classes are strictly in a classroom setting while some are taught right on the boat. There are countless websites that offer online courses. If you are interested in boating or just want to improve your skills, boating lessons will be good for you. Below are some of the topics covered in most boating courses.
Which Boat Is best For You? – materials for constructing boats, Boater’s language, types of boats; outboard motors and stern drives, hull design; uses of boats, other power plants, your intended use, the Coast Guard Customer Info line, marine surveyors; buying a boat.
Boat Handling – fueling your boat, Leave with a full tank, your boat’s propeller; cars and boats, twin screws, jet drives; loading your boa, getting started; leaving a pier; “man” overboard; docking, mooring to a permanent anchor, towing a skier; heavy weather, small boat safety.
Following the Rules to whom do the rules apply, Two sets of rules what is a vessel, the general responsibility rule, general considerations; conduct in narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, vessel traffic services, stand-on or give-way; rules for special vessels, risk of collision.
Powering Your Boat – Types of engines, marine engines, selecting a propeller; induction systems, ignition systems, flame arresters; cooling systems, gasoline considerations, batteries; maintenance, winterizing your boat; spring fitting-out; troubleshooting.
Boat equipment – Requirements for your boat, your boat’s equipment, legal considerations, substance abuse, boating accident reports.