When the sun comes out, it creates the perfect weather to indulge in outdoor activities, and boating is one of the best. Sailing is a fun way of spending time with friends and family and creating memories while escaping the monotony of everyday life. When safety rules aren’t observed, accidents can happen, which may cut short the pleasant Smooth Sailing Experience. For a smooth sailing experience, here are safety tips to keep in mind before setting off and during your boating trip.
1. Take A Boating Safety Course- Smooth Sailing Experience
A boating safety course is vital for everyone looking to operate a motor-powered boat as it helps prevent accidents that may cause injury. Boaters who take a Virginia boating safety course will learn how to handle a boat properly and drive safely. Sign up for a boating safety course approved by your state.
Furthermore, a boating course can help save lives as you’ll know how to respond to real-life situations through role-playing simulation.
According to the American Boating Association, nearly 70% of boating accidents are due to operator error. That’s why in most states, personal watercraft (PWC) operators are required by law to complete a boating safety course.
2. Prepare A Pre-Departure Checklist
Before setting out to a fun-filled day, you need to jot down all the things you need for your boating trip. This includes the appropriate equipment, supplies such as water and snacks, communication devices, and tools that come in handy in an emergency.
Next, inspect the standing rigging for any split pins, loose bolts, cracks, or breaks in the wire stays or rods. In addition, inspect the anchor and make sure it doesn’t have rust or broken links.
Take time to perform a walk-through and ensure that essential equipment and supplies for smooth sailing are on board before ticking them off your checklist.
3. Have Appropriate Life Jackets
Federal law requires every boat to have life jackets for every passenger, including young children. The life jackets should be approved by the US Coast Guard (USCG) and fit the wearer properly.
Although sailing is generally a safe activity, it can get dangerous as accidents happen. Life jackets can save lives by preventing drowning.
4. Carry Safety Equipment
Aside from life jackets and personal flotation devices, you also need other equipment for safety purposes. You should have one or more fully refilled marine fire extinguishers, depending on the size of your boat. If you have friends or family members on board, teach them how to use the extinguisher properly in case of emergency.
Ensure that your boat has working sound and visual signal devices for daytime and nighttime, including flares and strobe lights. Other needed safety devices include a first aid kit, bailing devices, paddles in case the engine fails, ropes, waterproof whistle, strong flashlight, and VHF radio.
5. Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before Going Boating
As driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, so is boating while intoxicated. Many boating accidents have resulted from boaters being impaired by alcohol.
On the other hand, operating a boat while sober allows you to exercise good judgment and have a faster reaction time to avoid accidents. You’ll also be alert enough to notice other vessels or anything of concern.
6. Follow Safety Rules
To ensure your safety, you need to be mindful of the rules and regulations in your state and follow them. This includes maintaining a safe operating speed to avoid a collision. Also, keep a safe distance from other boaters to avoid being caught in the wrong maneuver.
In addition, you have to be familiar with the navigation rules on crossing, overtaking, and what to do when navigating in an area where visibility is restricted.
Steer clear of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone. This means you should not get within 100 yards of a US naval vessel that’s longer than 100 feet.
7. Check The Weather
Different weather conditions affect the sailing experience. Sailing under clear skies is ideal since it’s safer and more fun. It’s best to avoid windy or stormy weather as it may cause your boat to capsize. So, before setting sail, check the weather forecast on the official marine website that offers real-time information. You can also stay informed using weather apps with accurate predictions.
By observing the safety tips outlined above, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way. Do familiarize yourself with navigational rules and other restrictions. Make sure you have everything you need for a hassle-free and pleasant sailing experience.
Since sailing is a physically demanding activity, rest well before setting sail and keep hydrated at all times. With that, anchors away!