Safety at Sea

Safety On Board a Sailing Boat

Safety on board a sailing charter needs to be a high priority. It is beneficial to incorporate safety into every action that is likely to take place on board.

Safety On Board a Sailing Boat

To remain safe, you really need to understand and include: preparation, planning, anticipation, and situational awareness, practice, and seamanship skills.

It doesn’t matter if you are borrowing, hiring, or own a sailing or motor-driven boat prior to leaving port it is highly advisable to inspect the vessel to ensure it is properly equipped and in a full working order. A boating vacation should be hassle-free, safe and fun. If able to cut the possibility of being left a victim of a stranded boat, there is a much higher chance that the trip will be that much more enjoyable. An inspection can start with looking over the hull for signs or cracks or similar damage. If the vessel is equipped with an inboard or outboard motor, check that the steering and throttle is able to operate smoothly. Also, make certain that the fuel and oil levels are at a sufficient volume to last the planned trip.

Beyond giving the vessel a visual inspection, a pre-departure checklist is also likely to be helpful for avoiding any potential dangers or inconveniences whilst out on the open waters.

A standard checklist is likely to include the following:

  • What is the expected weather forecast for the duration of the trip?
  • Are you likely to experience any local boating restrictions or hazards?
  • Do you have access to local charts and maps?
  • Is there a sufficient supply of lifejackets for those on board?
  • Does the safety equipment appear to be in full operational condition?
  • Are the electronic devices like the depth sounder and VHF radio working satisfactorily?
  • Is the vessel equipped with a well-packed first aid kit?

Also, when planning on going on a sailing charter trip, you really want to make certain that you are able to let someone know the planned itinerary for the trip, which is highly beneficial should you experience difficulties at sea and unable to return in line with the sail plan.

Navigation skills

Safety on board a sailboat is certain to relate to the navigation skills and experience of the skipper. Use a Chartplotter or similar instrument to help mark the precise course to help with minimizing potential dangers. A well-experienced skipper is more likely to be in a position of being safe while sailing compared to a complete novice. An ability to navigate on the open waters can also be improved with books, attending boat courses, or even using the wide-ranging apps that are now available on the market.

Before setting out

Before setting out on a voyage make sure to fully appreciate the limitations of the skipper/crew on board the sailing boat. Make sure the boat is equipped to complete the intended trip and has the proper supplies and safety equipment. Plot the course before leaving port to minimizing potential hazards on the way. Also, have a means of navigating safety in the event of the GPS malfunctioning.

Safety at Sea

6 Safety Items to Include on Pleasure Craft

A well-prepared selection of safety equipment is certain to help in difficult situations.

Buoyancy Aid

Here are six of the most common items to keep on board the vessel:

Smoke alarm

A high-quality smoke alarm is designed to emit a LOUD noise which should be easily heard over other sounds on the boat, such as the engines. Also, a loud smoke detector is practical for alerting the offices at the boat yard should a fire break when the vessel is left unoccupied.

Fire extinguishers

A vessel should be installed with a sufficient number of fire extinguishers to match the type and size of vessel. Plus, boats with a cabin or cooking facilities can benefit from a fire blanket. An automatic fire extinguisher system is highly recommended in vessels with an enclosed engine space. A small fire extinguisher located by each cabin is a practical option. Plus, a carbon monoxide alarm is helpful for vessels with cookers or similar applications with flames.

Emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)

An EPIRB is a radio transmitter that emits a signal on a specific channel in the event of emergencies or distress. Signals emitted from the radio beacon are recognized by satellites and these are effective at pinpointing the location of the signal. This information is then passed on to the rescue services.

An emergency position indicating radio beacon can be registered with the local coastguard service to make it easier to identify the boat in distress, while also giving information on contacts that are shore based.

Distress flares

An instantly recognizable signal of distress is the inshore or coastal flares. Distress flares should form part of any well-packed inventory of safety equipment.

First aid kit

A fully stocked first aid kit is likely to be the most common piece of safety equipment that is kept on board a vessel.

Life jackets and buoyancy aids

There are two types of personal floatation devices: Life jackets and buoyancy aids

A regular buoyancy aid is effective at keeping anyone in the water afloat and on the surface. It is a practical choice while involved in a sports activity or similar. However, this type of buoyancy aid isn’t helpful if the person is unconscious and their face is facing down.

The preferred choice for life safety is the life jacket which has built-in buoyancy to help turn a person so that they are facing up, which is a practical benefit for those knocked unconscious. A proper life jacket is critical in situations of abandoning ship or similar emergencies. Plus, an infant or child life jacket is available to ensure the right fit and support is given.

What to wear?

Buoyancy aid: Use the buoyancy aid when engaging in water sport activities like water skiing, canoeing, kayaking; windsurfing, riding a personal watercraft (PWC), or using a sailing dinghy.

Life jacket: A life jacket is the safety option when on a small open or power boat. A boat should have one life jacket for each person on board. Use a life jacket at all times for the non-swimmer when out on rivers, lakes, canals, or other open waters.

Safety at Sea

What to Expect With the First Sailing Lesson

Even though it is possible for the sailor to self-tutor using a boat and a book, the more effective option is likely to relate to attending an official sailing school.

Sailing Lesson

There is a varied range of sailing schools that offer many opportunities to learn the beginner to advanced skills for helming a sailboat. A learn to sail vacation is certain to be enjoyed by those that want to experience a practical sailing vacation.

The right way to learn

An essential aspect of learning to sail is to learn it the right way. Safe operation of a sailboat goes far beyond putting on a life-jacket. A more advanced aspect relates to learning the movement of the wind and waves. If planning to sail on the open waters, it is critical to have at least a basic understanding of the unpredictable nature of the conditions. Gaining the proper skill and knowledge is certain to help handle the conditions more effectively and efficiently.

Classroom setting

In the early lessons most of the sailing schools – commercial, community, or yacht club – are likely to start with a classroom setting. Prior to stepping on board a vessel for practical lessons, you really need to have a full appreciation of what to expect and experience. A classroom might be a pier or beach instead of a regular room, but you are still getting the same fundamental learning advice and guidance.

Starting out, a student is likely to be instructed on the basics, like marine terminology and parts of the sailing boat, since this is certain to be different from our day-to-day language. A need to have sailboat literacy is highly beneficial if you want a good understanding of what the instructor is communicating once the practical lessons start.

Learn the fundamentals of boating

It also helps the student to have a fundamental understanding of how the boat operates, such as how the sails and hull harnesses the wind. In many situations it is likely to be easier to explain these types of issues ashore with the help of pictures, drawings, and model boats.

Begin with the practical tuition

Once the practical tuition starts, a motivated individual that is able to receive intensive training over a two or three day period is certain to be able to rig a small sailboat, launch from the beach or dock, and experience an incident-free sailing trip for a number of hours. On return, and they will also be able to go through the motions of unrigging and laying up the vessel.

With the basics of sailing leant, a sailor is soon able to advance to sail single-handed with the larger sized day sailing boats in local waterfront towns or for hiring a charter vessel in a more exotic destination for a sailing holiday.

Get familiar with the boat

Spend a lot of time with a sailboat to become familiar with handling. Get to the point of becoming familiar with the different movements made by the boat. Over time the actions made in the boat will start to become second nature and this makes it easier to understand the effects of wind and waves.

Safety at Sea

5 Tips for the Sea Kayaker Before You Go Out

Whether it is extreme or serene, kayaking is a much more enjoyable adventure when the newcomer to the high seas has gained a certain degree of knowledge and experience.

Sea KayakHere are five tips for the complete beginner to sea kayaking:

1 – Basics

First-time sea kayaking paddlers can experience a variety of mishaps on the initial outing if the standard techniques aren’t learnt, including:

  • Use the proper grip for holding the paddle. A paddle should be held with a light grip to give better control of movement while maintaining a good level of flexibility. Plus, a light grip means less chance of straining the muscles.
  • Move a paddle with a deep, rhythmic, and a swift forward motion to get the kayak moving.
  • Use a sweeping stroke to help with maneuvering and correcting the course. A sweep stroke is much wider compared to the forward and reverse strokes.
  • Paddle at a pace and range that is comfortable for the specific kayakers comfort and enjoyment. Sticking to a personal style makes it easier to move naturally through the sea.
  • Paddling with the upper body held stable. By holding the proper center of gravity there is less chance of the kayak tipping and this ensures the steering action is significantly easier.
  • Practice the proper paddling techniques on the beach or similar shore-based area to get a feel of how to handle the paddles. Move on to shallow waters and get fully used to the proper movement until muscle memory is achieved.

2 – Companion

A solo kayaking adventure for the complete beginner is rarely a good idea. Paddling on the open sea can be quite unpredictable, so going with companions is certain to mean a safer and more enjoyable adventure. Go out with 2-3 other kayakers when first starting out to get a better appreciation of the entire experience. A kayaking adventure can experience several different situations which are much easier to handle when in a group environment.

3 – Lessons

Beginner sea kayakers should start their adventures by learning the basic skills before setting off on to the sea. Basic skills include maneuvering capabilities to paddling strokes. Without the basic knowledge, a paddler can soon find themselves in difficulty. Start with the simple lessons and slowly progress on the path to becoming a professional paddler.

4 – Map

While a mobile phone and GPS can be useful tools while out paddling they do have certain limitations such as reception signal and battery life. For these reasons it can also benefit to have the ability to use a compass and read a nautical chart.

5 – Route and weather

Plan a paddling route that is familiar. Use sheltered areas or bays to get more protection from choppy waters and strong winds. This is certain to benefit the beginner when first starting out. Get a regular update of the weather forecast to determine the likely conditions out at sea. But, when paddling a kayak in the open sea it is always wise to expect a certain degree of waves and wind even on days that appear calm. Avoid kayaking in difficult conditions with fog a real issue – sight of land is easily lost with low-visibility.

Safety at Sea

7 Safety Tips for Boating with Children

Avoiding boat mishaps with babies and children on board is certain to prevent issues with being fearful and providing memories that can last a lifetime.

Boating with ChildrenHere are seven safety tips to abide by when boating with children:

1 – Encourage the family

Let other members of the family become familiar with certain aspects of operating the boat. A family with more knowledge and experience is certain to mean less danger and accidents on board. Children can be shown how to trim the sails, operate the anchor, switch electrical items on and off, use manual winches, and start or stop the engine.

2 – Get Home

Are other family members able to helm the boat and set sail for home if the skipper is in distress? If planning to go boating with a child it is a practical precaution to teach the basic skills of using the VHF radio, engine starting and stopping, Chartplotter reading, electrical switchboard use, and emergency channel knowledge.

3 – Inflatables & Dinghies

Small children love to engage with inflatable toys and dinghies, while an outboard motor attached can also be quite appealing. Make sure the children are instructed with basic safety and handling techniques. A danger area is other boat users or swimmers, so ensure an inflatable is kept well clear of others and proper boundary rules are outlined.

4 – Life jackets

Abide by standard rules and regulations and ensure each child on board has a life jacket to increase safety in the event of falling overboard. Any life jacket worn should be at the appropriate size to match the child. Avoid an over-sized life jacket because this has the potential to entangle a child and make things more difficult in an emergency situation. A well-fitted life jacket should give a snug fit and should stay securely in place. A life vest can also benefit from a neck support to ensure a child’s head is kept out of the water. Plus, use a life jacket that automatically inflates for extra safety.

5 – No Go Areas

Let the children know the no go areas on the boat like forward of the cockpit on a motor-driven yacht or bow of a motor-launch when in motion. Plus, make sure children don’t use (or left close to) the companion way when the boat is under power. A small child left close to an open companion way might well fall through in a heavy breeze or wave. Plus, boating activities like berthing or mooring up can be quite stressful, so asking the children to be quite during this time is often advised.

6 – Pontoon or dock safety

Don’t let the children run on the pontoon or deck area, and for extra safety ensure a life jacket is worn. A dock area has joints, hoses, ropes, cleats, etc. that can easily result in trip hazards. Falling in the water at a marina can be dangerous for a small child, so take extra care and attention around this particular area.

7 – Safety drills

Regularly conduct fire and safety drills to ensure everyone on board knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Locations of escape hatches should be known.

Safety at Sea

5 Safe Boat Handling Tips for Bad Weather

Calm seas and winds are certain to mean enjoyable fishing, wakeboarding, power boating, etc.

Bad Weather Boating

A light chop and fresh breeze is practical for an invigorating windsurfing or sailing adventure. But extreme weather with lightning, torrential downpours, gusty winds, or dark clouds are certain to go against a captains wish.

Below are five tips to stay safe on a sail or power boat trip:

1 – Plan ahead

Plan ahead and listen out for local weather forecasts. Use a 3-5 day outlook to help determine the weather for the planned adventure. Use NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) or a similar service to determine whether or not it is practical to venture out to sea.

Listen out for storm or gale warnings, small craft advisories, or small boat cautionary statements in the forecast. Most of these services can give a reliable indication on high waves or winds that might occur within the next 24 hour period.

2 – Radio Tips

Use a VHF transceiver that is built to accept the NOAA weather radio stations. This type of VHF radio is readily available and makes it easy to stay in touch with the constant changes in weather. But, the quality of reception will vary significantly with the transmitter and location. An average distance is in the region of 25-40 miles. If planning on cruising beyond that distance, a high-quality HF transceiver (single sideband) might be a practical addition to the boat. The price for an HF transceiver is a lot more, but this piece of equipment should give the desired piece of mind that the property and life are better protected

3 – Stay alert

Because the weather can change without a moments notice it benefits to stay tuned into a weather station like the NOAA for the duration of the trip. Early notification of changes heading in your direction makes it easy to take the required action to protect the passengers and property.

Signs of an approaching storm consist of:

  • Lightning flashes
  • Increase in sea or wind speed
  • Threatening, dark clouds that could indicate a thunderstorm or squall
  • An AM radio experiencing heavy static might indicate a local thunderstorm

Head to shore if a thunderstorm might be approaching and get on land and under shelter as soon as possible. If afloat throughout a thunderstorm the lightning and gusty winds have the potential to impact safety. Put on life jackets and get prepared for the difficult seas. Plus, wait out the storm below deck.

4 – Seamanship

Should a thunderstorm of similar hazard appear out of nowhere within a short time-frame, a captain with good seamanship is certain to be more effective at helming the boat in these conditions. A seasoned skipper will have a broad understanding and skills to helm the vessel in many difficult situations. Plus, an experienced skipper will have knowledge of geography, water, and wind speeds. This type of knowledge is gained from actual boating experience or to a lesser extent in a classroom environment. A boat should be well prepared to handle any sudden change in condition. Safety equipment (life jackets, ropes, anchors, etc.) can be kept ready and available for immediate deployment.

5 – Weather broadcasts

  • Coast Guard NAVTEX (518 kHz)
  • Coast Guard VHF(Channel 22A)(157.1 MHz)
  • Commercial AM and FM Radio Stations
  • NOAA Weather Radio (162.400 MHz)
  • National Institute (2.5 MHz)
  • Standards and Technology (5 MHz)
  • Stations WWV and WWVH (15 MHz)

Safety at Sea

11 Safety Tips to Using Inflatable Rafts, Canoes & Kayaks

Inflatable boats such as white water rafts, canoes, kayaks, etc. are extensively available and made water sports a mainstream activity.

Inflatable Kayak for White Water RaftingWhile a reliable and high-quality boat can be helpful it is also critical to practice safety and take precautionary measures with an inflatable to avoid accidents. Mishaps at sea are easily caused by ill-preparedness, ignorance, and negligence.

Here are eleven tips for staying safe while in control of the inflatable boat:

1 – Alert skipper

Similar to road vehicles, avoid operating the inflatable when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or at times of illness. Controlling the boat on rough waters can require an alert and quick mind so make sure the skipper is always in a position to instantly make the proper handling decision.

2 – Boat safety course

A practical method to enhance the boating knowledge and navigation skills is to complete a boat safety course. An in-class or online course can teach everything there is to know about the safety operation of the boat.

3 – Boat skills

Be familiar with the all-round handling skills of the inflatable before venturing out on the water. Get experienced before taking charge of the inflatable and rely on those with experience or use less challenging and shallow water to get a full appreciation of using the boat.

4 – Life jackets

To comply with local rules and regulations make sure a life jacket is made available for each person on board the inflatable. Plus, the life jackets should be at the correct size (adult or child) to match those on the boat.

5 – Outboard motor

Give the outboard motor a test and visual inspection before setting off to ensure it is fully operational. Also, ensure there is enough fuel (with some spare) to complete the intended trip.

6 – Safety equipment

Make sure the inflatable boat is outfitted with the essential safety equipment before leaving port. Compile a checklist of safety equipment that can be quickly checked before setting off. Essential safety equipment includes:

  • Emergency repair kit
  • First aid kit
  • Flares
  • Flashlight
  • Handheld radio
  • Life jackets
  • Maps
  • Mobile phone
  • Personal floatation device

7 – Seated position

Passengers should stay in a seated position while the inflatable is moving to increase safety and avoid falling overboard.

8 – Shore party

Let a nominated person know the intended itinerary, how long you expect to be out, and personal details of those on-board.

9 – Swimmers

Avoid unsafe areas such as those that attract swimmers or other water sport activities. If it is necessary to pass through an area with swimmers make sure to keep a watchful eye on the water to avoid any mishaps.

10 – Taking passengers

A backup skipper or at least someone with knowledge of operating an inflatable is certain to benefit when passengers are on board. A nominated person should be available to take control of the boat in the event something happens to the skipper.

11 – Water regulations

Make sure to have a practical understanding of the local water regulations for the body of water that you intend on using. Check with the local authorities if you aren’t entirely sure of what is involved.

Safety at Sea

9 Quick Tips to Help Minimize Sea Sickness

Sea sickness (also referred to as car sickness and motion sickness) is a common complaint and relates to an inner ear disturbance resulting from repeated movement.

Acustraps Sea Sickness Bands

Symptoms relating to this condition include an unwell feeling, sweating, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. Most of the symptoms are caused by a noticeable change in the equilibrium and balance in the inner ear.

Here are 9 tips that can help to minimize the effects of motion sickness:

1 – Acidic, heavy, or greasy foods

Before setting sail avoid eating foods that are quite high in relation to acidic, heavy, or greasy. Instead, eat a light meal about 60 minutes before departure to give the stomach something to consume. Be cautious of salad dressings or similar as they are usually high in acidic content. An early morning meal can consist of porridge or cereals. Plus, an ingredient like ginger is appreciated for its ability to ward off sea sickness and is available in several forms, such as cookies and biscuits.

2 – Alcohol

It is best to avoid drinking too excess the night before going out on the sailboat. Wait until fully accustomed to life on the water before indulging in acidic, caffeinated or alcohol drinks.

3 – Caffeinated drinks

Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks for at least 24-hours or more before planning to go out on a sailing adventure. Caffeine has the potential to increase the risk of suffering from a headache, and this isn’t likely to benefit those that start to feel seasick once on the open waters.

4 – Exhaust fumes

Avoid sitting in any area of the boat that will put you within close proximity to the exhaust or diesel fumes. Plus, for those on a small Cuddy cabin or motor cruiser, it helps to avoid leaving the engine on when static for a significant period. Engine fumes often return to the boat and can make it quite unpleasant for the passengers or crew on board.

5 – Hypnotism

A hypnotism session might be the best cause of action for those that have severe difficulties with motion sickness. A scheduled session of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has the potential to minimize issues related to this condition. Most of these techniques have special instructions for those that are likely to experience sea sickness on a vessel.

6 – Line of sight

Once the boat is underway, try to avoid using cameras or binoculars, or reading for a prolonged period of time. It can help to have the horizon in sight, but make sure to avoid staring or concentrating on it. Plus, don’t be tempted to stare at things that are normally solid and stable like furniture or walls as this can confuse the brain.

7 – Prepare equipment

When getting prepared for a sailing or fishing trip it can benefit to get all supplies set up and ready before leaving port. Sort the supplies on board or on shore, which should help to significantly reduce the time spent below deck while the boat is in motion. Even moving around a boat when stationary can lead to issues with sea sickness, so make sure to do whatever is possible to minimize the time spent loading supplies on a boat. It might help at the start to avoid going below until you are more used to the motion of the boat and less likely to feel sick.

8 – Sleep

Getting a full and relaxing night’s sleep the evening before venturing out on the water is certain to benefit. Even though there might be some anxiety about going out on a boat, it helps to get in a good 7-8 hours of sleep. A good night’s sleep means you are more likely to be relaxed and ready for setting off in the boat and not dreading the planned trip.

9 – Stay hydrated

Sit in an area of the boat that makes it possible to get plenty of shade and fresh air. Try to avoid getting too hot and have a bottle of water or similar close to hand to avoid issues with dehydration. On a longer excursion, make sure to eat food to avoid getting hungry. Light snacks are the best option to avoid feeling sea sick.

Safety at Sea

5 Basic Boating Safety Tips for Dogs

Dogs and water can be fun and enjoyable for some, but not all dogs like being out on a boat or kayak.

Dogs and Boats

Dogs have different characters and the type and size of vessel can have a significant impact. A large vessel like a ferry ride shouldn’t be an issue for most dogs unless the pet is highly nervous. But, a small vessel might not be so attractive for a dog.

Below are five safety tips for taking a dog in the water:


Dogs that are first-time boaters might be quite fearful of the motion of the floor at the start. To help minimize the issues with a potentially rocking boat make sure to prepare the dog before taking them on board. Let the dog get used to the motorboat, sailboat or kayak when ashore to increase the chance of being more comfortable out on the water. After a short time most dogs will start to get accustomed to the motion and balance that comes with being in the water.


A period of desensitizing is the best course of action to get the dog used to live on a small boat, dinghy, or kayak. Sit in the boat with the dog and slowly rock the boat from side to side to give it some motion. Repeat this process of several days to ensure the dog is fully comfortable on board before heading out to sea. Avoid forcing the dog to stay in the boat, but give positive reassurance and build up a trusted relationship that confirms the boat is a safe environment.

  • Any dog on board a boat should know the basic commands like stay, sit, down, etc.
  • Create a specific space on or in the boat for the dog to use and apply a non-slip pad. Let the dog explore all areas of the boat.
  • Show the dog the easiest ways to get in and out of the vessels and lead the dog to the best places to lie or sit in comfort.
  • Make certain a dog is fully comfortable before heading out. A sudden shift in weight can cause issues with small boats or kayaks, so ensure the dog is able to remain stable on board.


Similar to people it is very easy for dogs to start to get quite dehydrated when left outside in hot temperatures. Give suitable access to fresh, cool water to avoid issues with thirst and also provide land breaks if possible to let the dog escape and relieve themselves.

  • Puppy pads, litter box or similar might be needed if land breaks aren’t a practical option.
  • Pack enough fresh water to ensure the dog is kept hydrated for the duration of the time on the water. On the hotter days, an increase in fluid intake is highly likely.
  • Plus, consider taking along the pet’s health records in the event these are needed should an emergency arise.

Life Jacket

Even the most competent dog breeds (Portuguese water dogs, Golden Retrievers, etc.) can experience issue in open waters and benefit from the safety of a life jacket. Water current and weather can easily change and it is better to have the safety of a life jacket in place. Life jackets come in a variety of sizes to ensure all breeds are fully protected. A life jacket is not only effective at keeping the dog afloat should it fall overboard, but will also make it easier to grad compared to only having a collar.


Apply a sunscreen to a dog or provide enough shade is certain to benefit when out on the water. A sunscreen with SPF of 15 or more is practical for applying to the belly, ears (avoiding the ear canal), and nose. Ask the vets to determine the safest brand to use for pets. Many dogs have a tendency to lick it off so you want to avoid issues that could lead to severe stomach upset. A boat hull in fiberglass or aluminum can easily heat up once exposed directly to the sun. This heat is then easily absorbed by the paw pads, so make sure to have a cool or shaded area for the dogs to get relief from the heat.

Safety at Sea

11 Tips for Safe Boat Handling

Always be prepared whether it is using a Jet Ski, a canoe, or a sailboat. Statistics taken from boat incidents indicate a helmsman who has completed a boat safety or has a life jacket on is more likely to stay safe at sea.

Boat Safety with Life Jackets

Common causes of boating incidents include:

  • Insufficient experience
  • Lack of attention
  • Recklessness
  • Speeding

Be aware of what is needed in the event of an emergency and have an operational understanding of the major components of boating equipment.

Here are eleven safe boating tips:

1 – Avoid alcohol

Limit alcohol use on board the boat to increase the ability to boat safely. Alcohol can increase the chance of being involved in an accident by nearly 50%. Plus the effects of alcohol at sea are made worse by the sun and wind.

2 – Boating course

Whether it is a starter or a refresher course, a boater is certain to benefit if able to abide by the proper boat safety rules and regulations. Even thought the boating course might vary from state to state, it still helps to be prepared and educated on the different circumstances that might arise at sea. Boat safety courses are offered on or offline and range from basic to expert tuition.

3 – Common sense

Any boat should be safely operated within the vessels limits and helmsman’s experience. Operate powerboats at a safe and appropriate speed for the waters used. Use lights in low-light conditions. Someone on-board should keep a lookout. Plus, be mindful of potential risks while on the water, such as swamping or capsizing, crossing bars, boating alone, and nighttime excursions.

4 – Engine and fuel

Any boat with an inboard or outboard engine should be inspected before departure to ensure it is working properly. Plus, make certain enough fuel is on board to complete both legs of the journey. A fuel margin of about 50% in excess is often recommended.

5 – Inspect craft and safety equipment

Give the boat a thorough visual inspection before departing from port. Be certain the vessel, motor, and safety equipment is suited to the intended travel plan and conditions. Safety gear should be in great condition. Flares or similar distress equipment should in date (expired flares might not give the desired performance).

6 – Learn to swim

Get swimming classes if planning on being in and around water on a regular basis. Look up classes in the local area and this will help increase the confidence when boating at sea.

7 – Let others know

Notify others and let a responsible other person know the intended cruising plan and when you expect to arrive back at port. Any notified person should also be in a position to give a description of the boat.

Leave behind the follow information:

  • Contact details (mobile phone number, address, and name) of the skipper
  • Passenger information
  • Boat registration and type & class
  • Trip itinerary
  • Communication options on board

8 – Pre-departure checklist

Use a pre-departure checklist to help with increasing safety when out on the open waters. A well-planned departure list should reduce the chance of any safety precautions or rules being forgotten or overlooked.

9 – Safety equipment

In addition to the life jackets, other safety equipment to pack on board the boat includes:

  • Life ring (throwable) or similar device (use on any vessel 16-ft or more)
  • Cell phone or similar means to call for help (VHF radio, whistle, flares, etc.)
  • Charts or maps
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kit
  • Operable boat lights (test before leaving the mooring)

10 – Use of life jackets

Wear a life jacket. A high percentage of drowning victims are those that decide to go against wearing a life jacket. It isn’t possible to know what might take place when out on the open water. A life jacket should be available for each passenger on board and at the right size (child to adult sizes). Wear the life jacket with the straps fully fasten to ensure you are kept afloat should you for any reason go overboard.

11 – Weather-wise

Before departing on sailing trip or a powerboat cruise make sure to check on the local weather forecast. TV, radio, or internet is a great source to get a complete picture of the expected weather. Avoid issues like sudden drops in temperature, changing, rough, or volatile winds, or darkening clouds. Play safe and stay off the water. Weather can change suddenly on the sea and you could be in difficulty within a short time.