Here in the United States, this weekend we will be celebrating the Independence of our great nation. Traditional activities include backyard barbecues and fireworks. 4th of July weekend is also a big weekend for boaters. With so many people out on the water, it is of the utmost importance that everyone keep in mind basic boating safety rules. Here is a list of things to keep in mind, adapted from a recent Sea Tow press release.
1. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE! This adage applies to boats as well as cars. Remember, a boat is a large moving object without brakes. Designate a sober driver to man the helm at all times.
2. Wear your life jacket. Make sure everyone onboard is wearing a traditional life jacket that fits properly or an inflatable PFD.
3. Watch your vessel's weight restrictions and don’t overload the boat Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or near the helm, or lookup the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.
4. Careful at nighttime! It may be quite challenging to spot the usual navigation markers at night. Chart your route in advance and use your GPS to help you find your course, if necessary.
5. Follow the directions that the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary issue about where you may safely anchor to view fireworks away from sparks and ash.
6. Easy does it. Don’t be in such a rush to get home after the fireworks. It is best to let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the days' festivities.
Please keep these safety tips on top of mind whenever you step into your boat over the weekend. We hope that you have very happy- and very safe - 4th of July weekend. Happy boating!!