5/17/2016 11:12 AM | 8 Comments

After a winter cooped up at home, there is no better feeling than basking in the warm sun on your boat. It’s tempting to immediately jump aboard and cruise out onto the Atlantic or your favorite lake, but there are a few things you need to do before you leave the dock to ensure the safety of you and your passengers.

Today is the start of National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27, 2016) — just in time as you prepare for those Memorial Day Weekend celebrations. The National Safe Boating Council is raising awareness of safe boating and the importance of life jackets through their North American Safe Boating Campaign, Wear It!

Listed below are our suggested safety and maintenance tips. By following them, you and your water-loving friends and family can enjoy each others company on the open water.

Safe Boating Tips and Procedures

1. Complete a full inspection of your boat  
Before boarding, be sure to check your engine for any leaks or issues, check all electrical conductors and features, ensure lights are functioning and that wiring or appliances are not damaged. The U.S. Coast Guard also provides free vessel safety examinations

2. Fuel up
Check the fuel levels of your boat and add what is needed. When filling portable tanks, only add fuel on the dock and never on the deck of your boat. 

3. Prevent fires on board
Inspect fuel hoses and evacuate any fumes or vapors that may have gone into the bilge, the lowest section inside the boat. Your boat should be equipped with a U.S. Coast Guard approved, marine-type fire extinguisher at all times in the event of  a  liquid fire from gasoline, oil, or grease.

4. Test radio devices and develop a float plan
Assure that your radio devices are functioning properly. We recommend creating a float plan and informing a friend or relative of your travel plans and expected time of return. 

5. Look up the forecast and stay alert for weather changes
New England is known for its unpredictable weather, especially during the summer. Do not venture out if thunderstorms, fog, or high winds are a possibility in the forecast. If the weather changes for the worse while boating, return to shore as quickly and safely as possible.

6. Always wear and provide life jackets
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2014. 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. All passengers must wear fitted life jackets and your boat should have additional flotation devices in case of an emergency. 

7. Wear non-slip shoes
Slipping or falling overboard can be prevented with the proper footwear and gear. 

8. Properly dock the boat
We recommend preparing bumpers, mooring lines, and hooks before docking as you return from a fun and safe day out on the water. Passengers should remain seated while docking and the engine should be turned off as passengers disembark from the boat. 

9. Never operate a boat under the influence
It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state and this applies to all types of boats, from canoes to large ships. To avoid these risks, the primary and backup operators on board should not consume any alcoholic beverages before or during operation of the boat. 

10. Educate your passengers about safety procedures
Before your outing with passengers, inform them of the location of the fire extinguisher, how to properly use radio devices as well as the necessary steps to safely evacuate the boat in case of emergency. As a reminder, don’t forget to have everyone put on a life jacket before boarding!

And finally… make sure you have Watercraft Insurance before you leave the dock! Watercraft insurance, regardless of the waters you are navigating, is specifically designed for the watercraft owner and vessel. That coverage can include:

  • Collision insurance
  • Boat liability insurance
  • On-craft medical coverage
  • Towing and assistance costs

By following our safety tips, you, your family and friends should have fun without worry all summer long. Enjoy your marine adventures!

Want to learn more about the best ways to insure your boat? Contact us at any time at: 800-333-7234 or by visiting our website.


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  1. Zequek Estrada's avatar Zequek Estrada
    I met a girl who didn't take a life jacket when she went boating because she could swim. However, she didn't think that she and another kid would fall out. The main problem came because this kid couldn't swim and almost pulled her under. Luckily they both made it out safe but since I've heard that story, I completely agree that everyone should wear a life jacket before boarding. http://www.boaterslanding.com
    Reply 10/25/2016 12:22 PM
  2. emily bennette's avatar emily bennette
    Getting a full inspection of your boat does seem like a very good thing to do. After all, you want to make sure that the boat is safe. It does seem like a good thing to be aware of if you want to keep the boat and yourself in good shape. http://www.aquasportsmarine.com.au/service/
    Reply 10/27/2016 6:09 PM
  3. John's avatar John
    I agree that when it comes to docking your boat you need to make sure you have bumper to avoid causing damage. I can see how this can help you maintain your boat and the dock intact and not need any expensive repairs. I would want to be able to return home in a good mood as I would have spent a good day on the water. Thank you for sharing.http://www.customdocksllc.com/
    Reply 12/22/2016 3:08 PM
  4. jresquival's avatar jresquival
    That's a good tip to check your engine for leaks before boating. That way you'll know you won't end up stranded with a failed engine. I always used to love spending time at the lake when I was you- maybe, it's time for me to get a boat. http://stickitanchorpins.com/brake.html
    Reply 2/7/2017 1:39 PM
  5. Kim's avatar Kim
    These are all great safety tips for those enjoying a day out on the water. Safety should always be a priority and this includes checking equipment before launching, making sure proper gear is on board for everyone, and of course, making sure electrical devices are in working order in case of an emergency. I also love that you mention checking the forecast before heading out. Weather can change so quickly so it is a good idea to get an idea of what the day ahead will look like to avoid problems.

    For those in Florida looking for live weather feeds before a day of boating, check here - https://marinaone.com/beach-and-ocean-live-streaming-webcams/
    Reply 2/26/2017 11:47 PM
  6. Yilliang's avatar Yilliang
    I think your advice to tell a friend when you are supposed to return is really important. When we leave on vacation, we always make sure to tell someone and have them call us if we are late. I had never thought to double check and make sure your batteries will last in your radio when you go out. Thanks for the advice! http://www.stemicmarine.com/residential_docks_boatlifts.html
    Reply 3/2/2017 6:49 PM
  7. scott's avatar scott
    I agree that it is important to always wear and have extra life jackets. I think that it is important to have a variety of different sizes so that they can fit on anyone you decide to take out. My dad is wanting to buy a boat that he can use to take his grandchildren boating during the summer. I'll have to make sure that he has the right amount of life jackets so that everyone stays safe. http://www.bradstrailer.com/accessories.html
    Reply 3/9/2017 12:49 PM
  8. Ernest London's avatar Ernest London
    Thanks for the boat safety tips! My family is thinking about buying a boat, but I want to make sure we know how to stay safe first. I like that you mentioned to make sure that you wear non slip shoes. I never thought about that, but I will make sure everybody wears proper footwear. http://www.petzolds.com/the-petzold-advantage/sales-advantage/
    Reply 5/25/2017 10:07 AM

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