Captain Bill Jennings give his take on 10 things to watch out for when you're on the water
Because you are reading this article, you are probably an excellent boater. You may already know that Rule #2 of Inland Regulations states that "The person in charge of the boat must do everything necessary to avoid a collision." To accomplish this, you must be able to spot and steer clear of inexperienced and dangerous boaters. You should also practice good habits yourself.
Here is a list of 10 things to avoid as a good boater. If you spot bad habits in the wild, consider offering some friendly tips or encouragement to help spread spread safe boating knowledge. If you can't from your position, keep a watchful eye.
1) Boat with your fenders down:
Flopping fenders will scratch the gel coat on a boat and splash passengers. A lazy boater is not a good boater. It's worth taking the time to put your fenders away, both to avoid damage and keep your boat looking good while cruising.
2) Allow children to sit on the bow, with their legs dangling over the side:
If a person slips over the bow of a moving boat, it is virtually impossible for the driver to stop the boat before the propeller comes dangerously close to the person overboard. Keep all limbs inside the boat at all times when underway.
3) Produce wakes in slow zones:
It's more important to respect people's shorelines than to save a few seconds getting to your destination. ‘Wake makers’ shouldn't have stiff necks, remember to check behind you and be mindful of the wake you are creating.
4) Consume alcohol while boating:
Alcohol is the number one cause of fatal boating accidents. If you suspect a group of boaters is imbibing, keep a safe distance. If there is illegal alcohol consumption that could lead to unsafe operation, contact authorities. Be smart. Be safe.
5) Fail to "give way" as required by law:
Not all boaters know, or remember, marine regulations and may not give the proper right of way. If you encounter a boater who isn't giving the right of way, give them space and find the safest alternative.
6) Bang the dock when parking:
When you see a boater that can’t dock smoothly without assistance be wary, both for their safety and yours. It is possible they are new, in which case you should offer support. If the operation is not safe, park as far away as possible and warn any passing boaters to keep a safe distance.
7) Play race driver:
If a boater comes up beside you to show that they have a faster boat, let it go. Their boat may not be faster, but there is no room for dangerous operation in boating. Especially in a non-racing environment. Don’t be tempted.
8) Let your boat grow a beard:
A thoughtful boater keeps their bottom clean. It saves fuel and allows the boat to run properly. A dirty hull can be a common sight in some areas due to water type, but if you see a dirty bottom in an otherwise clean waterway give it space. Poor maintenance could be an indicator of poor operation as well.
9) Leave the motor running while parked on the water or in a lock:
Nobody wants to feast on carbon monoxide. Shut your engine off when not not in use if safe to do so.
10) Cruise unfamiliar waterways with no chart, GPS, or compass:
This is how you can become a lost soul. Come prepared to any waterway, and ask for help if you are unsure. Other boaters will be happy to help you on your way.
This is a short list of some things that good boaters don't do. If you spot one, give them a wide berth, as required in rule #2. Let's also be sure that we aren't guilty of any of these bad boating habits. #quicktips