Steps to safe boating in crowded waters

Holiday weekends and special events often mean waterways crowded with vessels that even experienced boaters might have trouble navigating. Unfortunately, waterways full of boats often lead to more accidents, as witnessed by an uptick in boating accidents last year (2020) that correlated with a surge in first-time boat owners.

Bodies of water full of boats aren’t going anywhere, and as a Florida boat owner, it’s crucial that you know how to effectively navigate crowded waters, communicate with other boaters, and be considerate of those sharing the water. Here are some tips that can help you, your passengers, and your fellow boaters stay safe in a crowd of boats.

Brush up on boating education

In Florida, you must pass a boaters education course to get the Florida boating Safety Education Identification Card, which serves as a permit. That proof of course completion is good for life, but as time passes, some of the lessons may have been forgotten. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to review some of the lessons regarding navigation, safe operation, emergencies, and watersports to ensure you’re following the latest guidelines.

Stay sober

This goes for boating under any conditions, but especially in crowded waterways. Florida law specifically and clearly states that anyone operating a boat or using boating accessories like water skis, sailboards, or any similar device while intoxicated is breaking the law. Additionally, and more importantly, you’re putting yourself and everyone around you at risk. As a boat owner, you have a responsibility to make sure your boat is operated responsibly.

Use a safety lanyard (engine cut-off switch)

As of April 2020, federal law requires all personal watercrafts to use a safety lanyard. This is a simple lanyard that shuts off the engine if the driver is ejected from the vessel and prevents runaway boats and prop injuries.

Also Read: Life Jacket Laws for Florida Boaters

Enforce life jacket wearing

Most boating-related casualties come as a result of drowning, and almost all of those victims are without life jackets. By simply adhering to this practice, you may prevent serious injury or death.

Boating is a very safe activity compared to other modes of transportation, and we certainly want everyone to enjoy the incredible boating Florida has to offer. With so many boats on the water, it’s important that you respect others and maintain standards for you and others on your boat.