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Happy Safe Boating Week

The unofficial kickoff of summer is just around the corner and if you haven’t already started your boating fun, you are surely thinking about it.  Soon, the lakes, rivers and coastline will be full of those who worship the sun, the sand and fun.  Before the mayhem starts, don’t forget to take a moment to remember the fact that Safe Boating Week is May 18 – 24, 2019.  No doubt that having fun while boating is elemental but let’s make a plan to do it safely.  Here are a few promises to make to yourself about boating safely this summer:

  • Avoid boating while under the influence.  Far too many people are injured or killed each year due to boaters that are intoxicated.  You don’t have to drink to have fun but if you do, don’t get behind the wheel.  Let someone else drive or choose to stay put. 

  •         Pay attention.  There are lots of things to look out for when on the water.  Other boats, jet skis, obstacles and sometimes even people can sometimes get in the way.  Keep an eye out while underway at all times.  Remember that on larger boats, it may be challenging to see what is right in front of you, especially if it is a smaller vessel.  Nighttime cruising is an even bigger challenge.  Keep your eyes open and head on a swivel.  

  • Don’t be a distracted boater.  If you are at the helm, don’t forget that your number one priority is driving the boat.  Avoid being distracted buy your passengers or other scenery while you are underway.  Looking away for just a moment could cause you to miss that jet ski crossing your route. 

  • Make sure you have the proper safety equipment and make sure it is operational.  Safety equipment is something that you hope you don’t need but if you ever do, it literally can save your life.  From life jackets to fire extinguishers, make sure you have the proper equipment on board and it is of the right type. 
Check your boat now to make sure you have all required safety equipment.
  • Know your limits.  Don’t operate your vessel in a manner that exceeds its capability or your capability. If you are not experienced at boating in rough water or your boat is not designed for it, don’t put you and your passengers in a situation where you will have to deal with it.  Just because your boat can do 120 MPH, doesn’t mean you should.  Handling a boat in extreme conditions or at extreme levels takes experience and training.  

  • Stay hydrated.  Being out in the sun for long periods of time can dehydrate you.  Drinking alcohol can also dehydrate you.  One of the symptoms of excessive dehydration is a reduction in the ability to make critical decisions.  Keep plenty of water on board and keep your body hydrated.  

Getting a Vessel Safety Check is a no-brainer

  •  Don’t forget your brain.  Several years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Linda Greenlaw.  She was the first female sword fishing boat captain in the US and she was featured in the movie The Perfect Storm.  One of the questions that I asked her was what she felt was the most important piece of safety equipment on her boat.  Without hesitation, she said “your brain.  Because if you get out there and do a bunch of stupid sh*t, it really doesn’t matter what safety equipment you have on your boat.”  I have never forgotten that and you shouldn’t either.

Remember, if you are a boat owner/operator, you are responsible for the safety of you and your passengers.  That is a major responsibility.  Do not take it lightly.  I keep my boat on Lake Lanier just north of Atlanta.  Unfortunately, we have already had two deaths this year which were the result of a boat collision.  While the cause is apparently still under investigation, it does appear that if everyone had followed the guidelines above, it would never have happened. 

Do yourself a favor.  Enjoy your time on the water.  Just do it safely.

Happy (and safe) Boating

Captain Frank
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