5 Essential Tips for Safe Boating Every Beginner Should Know

5 Essential Tips for Safe Boating Every Beginner Should Know

Going on a boat trip is an adventure; however, the definition of the word adventure is not just something new and interesting - it’s also something potentially dangerous. Well, boating is an epitome of an adventure and it doesn’t take much imagination to envision a dozen of things that could go wrong on a boating trip.

In order to avoid some of the worst outcomes, there are a few safety precautions that you have to take. Remember, this doesn’t mean that you’re a pessimist; it just means that you’re a person with a contingency plan.

So, here are five essential tips for safe boating that every beginner should know of.

Always wear a life jacket

Life jackets are inexpensive and easy to use. All you have to do is take your own measurements, buy the right size, and then learn how to wear them properly. You would be surprised at how many people get this wrong, but this is really not a complex skill that is nearly impossible to master. You just have to watch the tutorial once.

The most important thing is that they absolutely always work. You see, an important lesson or a piece of advice can be forgotten in a moment of emergency. A life jacket will just… well, work as intended, regardless of the circumstances. This is especially important when boating with kids because you never know how they’ll act when they start panicking.

When you develop a habit, wearing a life jacket won’t feel like that big of a chore. They’re like a safety belt in your car that you automatically put on as soon as you sit behind the wheel. Until that point, you might have to leave some reminders around.

Check everything beforehand

The next thing you have to do is check the boat. If you’re getting a rental boat from a reputable place, there are regular inspections, and you can see the last report on the state of the boat and its various parts. If it’s your own boat, you need to conduct an inspection (if you’re qualified) or find a specialist.

Most importantly, you need to check if your navigation is working right. This is something that you can’t afford to wait until you leave the port to find out. Just check out all your equipment and see if you brought all your maps. Also, make sure to refresh your memory of old navigation methods. You never know when this might come in handy.

Another thing you should consider is checking the weather forecast. Even the most seasoned sailors shouldn’t set out in the unfavorable weather, let alone someone new to this. Just checking it out can save you a world of trouble.

Avoid alcohol and focus

Boating while drunk is just as dangerous as drunk driving. The only difference is the perception of the general public because of two reasons. First, you’re much less likely to be pulled over by authorities (while this is not impossible, it’s quite rare), and there’s no traffic and pedestrians.

However, these people tend to forget that drinking and driving is not supposed to be done in the first place. It was never about the law; it was about everyone’s safety. Overconfidence is dangerous. Even if you think you’re an efficient drunk driver, you’re never as alert, and your reflexes are never as fast as if you were 100% sober.

Also, when commanding a vessel, make sure that you’re 100% focused on what you do. Sure, you may be tempted to scroll on your phone a bit to pass the time quicker, but then what’s the point of boating? Not only are you putting everyone in danger, but you’re also missing out on the best part of the boating experience.

Check-in on a regular basis

Lastly, you don’t want to get lost; sometimes, this is not as easy as you think. So, you need to have a contingency plan. Start by telling someone about your route. This way, if there has to be a search party, they have a general idea of where to look for you. If the rescue mission heads out in time, they’ll reach you quite easily.

Make sure you have a way of contacting people on the shore. Today, with Starlink and similar services, you should have access to a means of communication even when you’re out in the open ocean. Just explore your options and make sure that you have some way of contacting people no matter what. For instance, if you’re not in an open ocean but somewhere close by (like in Florida), you can pick other means of communication.

Some people go out on the open sea to get away from others; still, you should at least check in from every port. This will ensure that people always know where you are, especially if things go south.

Act as if you’re driving a car

Previously, we talked about how people don’t follow the same rules for boating as they would for driving. This is eerily accurate. You see, there are a lot of common-sense rules, like the right-of-way rules that you apply when driving but have no idea also apply in boating. The thing is that this is not the only rule.

Maintaining a safe speed is another example of this. Why? Well, mostly because people (like with alcohol consumption) assume that the only way we don’t speed is because we risk hitting other vehicles and that since there are no other vessels around, it’s safe to go full speed. This is not true. Sure, you should be extra careful when there are others around, but even on the open sea, you should keep the speed down a bit.

Ultimately, try to keep a safe distance from other boats in order to avoid collisions and give yourself enough time to react. However, even after taking proper precautions, accidents can still occur due to factors outside your control. It's crucial to remain calm, account for all passengers, and call for emergency assistance after a boating accident.

In conclusion, you have to keep in mind just how important it is to take safety precautions. This way, even if things go wrong, they won’t go horribly wrong. Moreover, not a single one of the above-listed safety measures will take anything away from your fun time. It just buys you a peace of mind.