Sailing and boating in the US is an unregulated activity, so anyone can basically enjoy it. Most states don’t have strict rules that require safety courses or even license to do sailing or boating. In fact, many avid boaters and sailors have learned the hobby from friends or just by themselves – and many amateur sailors are unaware of the risks at sea.
It comes not a surprise that there are many people who are hurt or die in boating and sailing incidents every year. In many of these incidents, the mishap could well have been prevented with proper training, a little foresight and preparation.
Here let’s take a look at the essential things to remember to stay safe while on the water.
- Firstly, know your boat’s capacity. What is the maximum number of passengers and cargo weight can it carry? Never exceed your boat’s capacity or you’ll run risk of capsizing.
- Know how to operate your boat. If it is your first time, it may be best to have an experienced boater with you through the trip and avoid distant travels.
- Be sure to know the laws about Personal Flotation Devices (PFD). As soon as you (or any passenger) steps on the boat, make sure to wear PFD. Aside from PFDs, equip your boat with throwable devices that you can use should someone accidentally falls to the water.
- Equip your boat with other safety equipment such as navigation lights, fire extinguisher, sound signaling and visual distress equipment, and communication gadgets. You can get them from a reliable boat supplies or safety shop. If you can’t find one, you might want to consider using alternative, maybe a good doorbell can be used as a sound signaling device (there are some nice doorbell reviews you can find at http://doorbellbase.com) or a powerful fog light for visual distress signaling.
- Check your boat regularly. Just like your car or any vehicle, your boat needs periodic inspections and maintenance to keep it running in perfect condition. For instance, you may need to change the engine oil or repair the rudder. Before heading out, always be sure to check the condition of the boat.
- Always check the local conditions, the weather and the forecast. There are many reliable sources of weather and conditions; some you can access right at your smart phone. Take note of any possible weather changes that can happen while you are on the water.
- Know the water hazards in the area where you would sail. Chartplotters often show hazard – make sure to read them especially if it is your first time in the area.
- Make a float plan (or simply an itinerary of your trip) and leave it to someone you trust. It would alarm them in case you’re overdue and can’t be reached. Many sailors have been saved from being stranded on the sea after someone reported they’re unexpected delay.
- Orient new crew or guests about the boat and any emergency plans in place. This would avoid unnecessary panic in case of unexpected mishaps.
- Develop your own checklist that you deem appropriate for your boat. Sailors and boaters would benefit much from having a pre-departure check, much like a preflight check that a pilot does.
Sailing and boating is exciting and fun, but never forget to stay safe on the water! I hope these tidbits help make your next sailing trip fun and safe!