It wouldn’t be summer without a boat ride around the lake! Boating is a great way to enjoy being on the water, whether you plan on getting wet or simply want to soak up the sun from the deck. From fishing to wakeboarding, there are endless ways that you can enjoy an afternoon spent on your watercraft.
We’re going to go over some basics of boating safety, including what you need to keep on your watercraft as well as some proper etiquette. So, keep reading to learn more!
Boating Safety Essentials
First, let’s go over a few items that you need to have on your boat at all times to ensure that you’re following proper boating safety guidelines and are prepared in case of emergency.
Boat Registration & Paperwork
Just like your car, your boat has proper paperwork (such as the registration) that you need to keep with you while you’re on the water. You may also need a boating certificate and your ID. Many boats have a glovebox (like your car) where you can keep this stored. It’s also a good idea to keep it stored in a waterproof bag or cover.
Life Jackets & Throwable Life Preservers
Many states and regions have different laws about what needs to be on your boat when it comes to flotation devices. However, the one consistency is that you must have some kind of flotation device in case of emergency. It’s always a good idea to have CGA life jackets on your boat (enough for one per person) along with a throwable life preserver. Be sure to check your region for specific details on what’s required.
Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but a fire extinguisher is something that needs to be kept on your boat. Many boats come prepared with one of these, but you’ll want to check that your boat has one before you head out on the water. Different sized boats may require specific types of fire extinguishers or even more than one. Be sure you check what your specific watercraft needs.
Another boating safety item you’ll need is an emergency flare in case you get stranded and need to signal for help. Different boats may require different types of flares such as smoke flares or red flares that can be seen at night.
Like a flare, you’ll want a horn or some kind of sound device on your boat in case you need to signal for help. This can be something that’s fixed to your boat or something portable. Just be sure it’s loud and easy to use when you need it.
Anchor & Line
You’ll want to be sure that you have an anchor and line so that you can keep your boat safely in place if you need to stop anywhere.
First Aid Kit
Be sure you also have a basic first aid kit onboard in case of any injuries. Keep it stocked with bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, and any other small emergency supplies you need in case of cuts, scraps, or other injuries.
Between sunrise and sunset, you’ll need to make sure your boat is properly illuminated so that other vehicles on the water can spot you. Different lights may be required for different boat sizes, so be sure to check what your specific craft needs.
Additional Boating Safety Gear
Besides items that are required to be kept on your vessel, there are a few other things that are a good idea to keep with you and ensure you’re following proper boating safety.
In case you get stranded, be sure you have some filled water bottles on hand so that you can stay hydrated, especially if you’re stuck out in the hot sun.
Another thing you’ll need while in the hot sun is sunscreen, so be sure you keep a bottle or two on board!
Following the theme of sun, be sure you have a hat and sunglasses with you to keep your face and eyes protected from the rays.
It’s also a good idea to keep your boat stocked up with bug spray, especially if you’re boating in the evening when the mosquitoes are out!
Oars or Paddles
In case your engine dies, it’s a good idea to keep oars or paddles on your boat so that you can row to shore if needed.
Boating Safety and Etiquette
Now that we’ve gone over boating safety equipment, it’s time to go over a few boating safety and etiquette tips to remember while you’re on the water.
Check your boat’s weight capacity.
Be sure to check your boat’s weight limit before you invite all of your friends onto the boat for a cruise around the lake. Having too many people on board can make it harder to control your boat and will put you at a greater risk of capsizing.
Check your fuel tank.
While this may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to boating safety, you might not always remember to do this while you’re out with friends and having a good time. Be sure to check where you’re at on fuel before you start your cruise. You don’t want to run out halfway across the lake!
Keep music at an appropriate volume.
Just like while driving, it can be fun to blast the tunes, but don’t blare the music too loud. Sound travels easily across bodies of water, so keep other boaters and people in mind by keeping your music at an appropriate volume.
Drive at an appropriate speed and keep your distance.
Double check to see if the lake or body of water you’re boating on has a speed limit or no wake zone. Be sure you keep this in mind and obey the law by not driving too fast. You also don’t want to throw a huge wave at other boaters or those on the water. Be sure you keep an appropriate distance between yourself and others on the water (around 200 feet) to avoid any collisions as well as avoid making waves that could be dangerous (or just annoying) for other watercrafts.
This should be an obvious thing to remember, but it’s worth mentioning. Keep your trash out of the water!
Ready to head out to the water? Before doing so, be sure that you review the items that are currently on your boat and make note of the ones you need so that you can ensure proper boating safety while you’re out on the lake!