Boating is one of the most diverse and enjoyable activities you can do! You can have some heart-pumping fun and get some tubing in and practice your jumps on water skis, or you can take a nice relaxing cruise around Lake Lanier. One thing is for certain, though, boating is always more fun when done safely. Boating can be very dangerous if you are careless, don’t know the rules, or are ill-prepared. In today’s blog at Freedom Boat Club in Buford, we talk about some safety tips and things you can do to make sure that you and your family are safe on your next boating excursion.
Not yet a member of Freedom Boat Club in Buford? Contact us today to join and start enjoying the perks of boat ownership!
Always be prepared
This may sound a bit broad and vague, but that doesn’t make it any less important. You can create a mental checklist of everything you need to remember to bring from home — or even a physical one if you tend to be forgetful. Additionally, every time you set foot on a boat, you should always double check to make sure you have all of the emergency tools and supplies required by the U.S. Coast Guard and your specific state’s law. The U.S. Coast Guard requires your vessel to have items such as:
- A personal flotation device for every person on board (type one through five)
- One type four throwable floatation device
- A fire extinguisher (for enclosed engine compartments)
- Distress signals with a minimum of three days and night use
- A horn, whistle, or other alerting noise-making devices
- A backfire flame arrestor
- Proper ventilation of enclosed engine compartments
In some cases, certain substitutions are allowed and mandatory supplies may vary depending on the size of your boat. Always make sure you know what supplies are mandatory in order to stay in compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard rules and regulations.
On a less serious note, it’s also good to be prepared with other useful items that might not be mandatory. At Freedom Boat Club in Buford, we recommend bringing:
- Plenty of water
- Light snacks
- The appropriate clothing and swimwear
- First aid kit
- Duct tape
You may not need to bring each and every item on every boating adventure, but be sure to use your best judgment to try to think if you will need any of the above supplies for your boating day at Lake Lanier!
Know the weather
The last thing you want or need is to be out in the middle of Lake Lanier on your fun boating day and have a huge thunderstorm sneak up on you. Not only does that put a literal damper on your fun, but it can also be dangerous. Being caught out in a bad enough storm can cause an accident by having someone fall overboard or making your boat crash into something. It doesn’t take very long, especially in today’s instant gratification culture from smartphones, to pull up the weather forecast and make sure the weather permits a fun and safe day of boating.
Know the rules
In boater’s safety courses, they make sure to go over all of the rules and regulations that you need to know to be safe on the water. If it has been a while and you’ve forgotten some rules, then make sure to brush up on the rules and regulations of boating safety. Boating rules are not arbitrary and made to keep you from having a good time — each and every rule is set in place to prevent harm to other boaters, property, and you.
When you join Freedom Boat Club in Buford, we provide you with a free boater’s safety course when you join! Contact us today to learn more.
Always wear a life jacket
For whatever reason, some people are against wearing life-saving devices like helmets and life jackets. Perhaps they think it looks cool or that they don’t need it. In both cases they are wrong. After wearing a life jacket for a few minutes, most people forget they are even wearing one. You may think you are an excellent swimmer, and you very well could be, but no one can swim very well when knocked unconscious or injured in some way. The U.S. Coast Guard mandates that anyone under the age of 13 needs to wear a life jacket and anyone older than 13 must at least have the option to wear one by having it available on the boat. Here at Freedom Boat Club in Buford, we strongly encourage everyone on board to wear a life jacket at all times.
It is extremely dangerous and illegal to drink and operate a car, and it is no different for operating a boat. Drinking and boating is very dangerous for you, everyone on your boat, and everyone else on Lake Lanier. It is never worth the risk. And, as the captain of the boat, you have a responsibility to keep everyone on your boat safe — which means being completely sober and attentive while driving the boat. If you want to drink and have a fun day on your boat, then designate a sober boat captain just as you would a driver. Just make sure that they possess a current boating license as well.
Just like driving a car, you are operating a heavy and very fast moving vehicle. When you don’t pay attention to where you are going, the location of other boats, and other obstacles, it can become very dangerous very quickly. As the captain, keeping everyone safe should be your main priority. That means paying close attention when out on the water.
Safe docking and departure
Docking and departing are similar to the take-off and landing portion of flying. Both are crucial processes where you have to be very careful because even a small mistake can result in catastrophe. Always be sure to take it slow, take your time, and have a plan.
Pro tip: if you are stuck in between two boats, you can tie the front of your boat to the dock and gently give it power. This will help swing the back end of your boat out so you can safely reverse away.
Have an emergency plan
It is always good to be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure that you and everyone on your boat know what to do if:
- The boat starts to take on water
- The boat capsizes
- The weather takes a turn for the worst
- The boat breaks down in open water
- The boat gets beached
It’s always good to think through and be prepared for the worst. Quick thinking and action plans can stop a bad situation from becoming worse and can even help to prevent some emergencies.
Don’t overload the boat
Overloading the boat with too many people or too many supplies can increase your risk of a boating accident. Your boat will be less maneuverable making it more difficult to avoid potential hazards. Also, your boat will sit lower in the water, potentially allowing water to swamp the boat and make it sink. It’s always wise to know the limits of your boat before you cast off.
Use your best judgment
Ultimately, there is no boating safety guide out there that will cover everything you might need to know. The best thing you can do is to use your best judgment in every situation. If you trust your gut, then most of the time things will work out well for you and your family in the end.
If you and your family want the opportunity to put your boating safety skills to the test, then join us at Freedom Boat Club in Buford! We offer free, included boater’s safety courses, and give you unlimited access to boating fun whenever you want!