Boating Safety

Over the years, The Rules of the Water have evolved and helped make boating safer for everybody. Learn the rules of safety before boating in the water.

1. Rule against negligence

Negligence can be considered a criminal act. Some examples of negligence on the water are driving too fast, failure to ensure that children have Coast Guard approved life jackets, riding on seat backs, doing hazardous water skiing actions, and of course, driving under the influence of alcohol. Drinking and boating just don't mix. Practically all accidents are caused by negligence, so it is important to be very conscientious when you're on the water. It is worthwhile to mention that these acts of negligence can get you some serious penalties, and can potentially put the lives of your friends and family in danger.

2. Wear Coast Guard approved life preservers

Statistically, 2 out of every 3 people who have died while boating did not have on life preservers, including those who thought they were strong swimmers. There must be a life jacket for every passenger on board at all times, and it is strongly recommended that it is on at all times, unless perhaps you are inside an enclosed cabin or tied to a dock or anchored. All children are required to wear life jackets with few exceptions.

3. Have safety precautions in place for children

Assign an adult to be responsible for each child on the boat. Make sure the children have assigned seating on the boats so they are easier to keep track of.

4. Speed and control

Most collisions occur as a result of excessive speed. There are no brakes on a boat, so when you're going fast you're going to need more distance and/or time to stop. Keep your boat speed to a level that you can maintain full control of the boat at all times.

5. Basic navigation

To avoid collisions with other boats, please follow these simple maneuvers. If another boat is coming at you head on, steer to the starboard (right) to avoid the boat. When overtaking or passing another boat, be sure to pass on the left. Be sure to leave plenty of room and yield to that boat.

When crossing the path of another boat be sure to yield starboard. Also be sure to yield to all boats that are not under power, including sail boats under sails, canoes, and kayaks. You should also stay out of the way of commercial boats. If there is ever the possibility of a collision, be sure to understand that it is your responsibility to slow down and steer away or to stop, to avoid hitting another boat. And finally be sure to display all proper lights if your boat is going to be operated at night. Your boat's lights should always be in good working order.

Be sure to locate the boat's horn on the boat. 5 short blasts on the horn is the universal signal for distress.

6. Lookouts

It is especially important as the operator of the boat to appoint lookouts who can assist with ensuring safe operation of the boat. There are times that you cannot see everything around you, so make sure to have lookouts in both the front and the back of the boat. Be sure that your lookouts are in position before your turn on the motor. They can help alert you to the presence of swimmers in the water and anything else you might not be able to see.

7. Overloading and stowage

Never have more than the maximum allowed weight/passengers so that the boat doesn't overload, swamp, or otherwise be very difficult to control. Also, the uneven distribution of weight on the boat can create a very dangerous situation, so make sure everybody is evenly and carefully organized and distributed from front to back.

Be sure to properly stowaway fishing equipment, coolers, ropes etc. in the proper containers. These objects can be caught in the wind causing a slip and fall hazard on the boat, so be very careful with the placement of these items.

8. Tow sport safety

All water skiiers must wear life jackets. There must also be a minimum of three people on any water skiing run: the boat operator, the lookout, and of course, the skiier. The operator's responsibility to keep a view of what's behind the boat, while it's the boat operator's job to be aware of what is front. Also, make sure to use a tow rope that is at least 30 ft in length to stay a safe distance away from the carbon monoxide exhaust fumes from the boat. The operator must always make sure the water skiier is in view. To get the person back in the boat be sure to stop the engine well before you reach the person and keep it off until the skiier is safely back on the boat. And be sure to always keep people away from the boat's propeller blades.

And finally keep in mind that it is also unlawful to engage in water sports at night or when visibility is poor.

9. Falls overboard

Passengers must always be sitting when the boat is in motion. This will greatly reduce the chances of a fall overboard. Passengers who must move around the boat should always hold on to handrails or anything else that is stable to prevent a slip or fall overboard.

Your safety is our priority at Skiwi Rentals. We hope these Basic Rules of the Water help you think safer the next time you're out on the water.

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