In 2016, there were 4,463 recorded boating accidents with 2,903 reported injuries and 701 deaths. Most boaters are amateur captains and only drive their boat a few times per year, compared with driving their car many times per day. Most rules for driving a boat are similar to driving a car. Follow these tips to have a safe boating experience:
Take a safe boating course from your local Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Pilot your boat while sober. Have a designated captain who will not drink during your outing.
Be very careful of driving your boat in the dark. Drive slowly. Tall docks and semi or fully submerged objects can stop your boat in an instant.
Get a depth finder and a depth chart app for your phone to know the water depths and hazards around your boat.Be extra cautious in unknown waters for bottom depth and submerged objects.
Be certain that your motor is the right size for your boat.
Read and follow the load limit tag, which is attached next to the driver’s seat. It tells you how many people and cargo you can safety carry in your boat.
Be sure that proper safety equipment is on board and is used, such as:
1. Life jackets that fit, one for each person on board.
2. First aid kit
3. Signal maker – flairs, whistle, horn …
4. 75 feet of rope for towing, or being towed.
Life jackets should be worn by:
1. Anyone under five years old.
2. Anyone who is a non swimmer. A swimming test would be being able to swim around the boat at least twice without struggling.
3. Everyone on board in rough weather.
If you have a boat that has gasoline tanks enclosed in the boat, turn on the ventilation blowers before you start the boat, lest the fumes cause an explosion.
When casting off, double check that all lines are removed from the dock and that all equipment is safely stored inside the boat.
Be extra cautious in unknown waters for bottom depth and submerged objects.
Drive safely near and by other water craft, skiers, and swimmers.
Beware of SCUBA diving flags and stay clear of them.
Slower craft have the right of way such as canoes, or sailboats. Sailboats have the right of way because they are harder to turn and move out of the way. Very large boats, such as freighters, also have the right of way because they are also difficult to turn and move out of the way.
Before going onto bodies of water where you will not be able to see land, have a working "ship to shore" radio with extra batteries on board.
When docking, come in on the windward side of the dock so the boat will be blown toward the dock and not away from it.