Every year, about a week or two before Memorial Day, the President of the United States issues a proclamation for “National Safe Boating Week.” In part, the proclamation reads, “As Americans anticipate the warm weather of the summer months, we look to our Nation’s abundant outdoors and waterways for relaxation and recreation. America’s lakes, rivers, and oceans are enjoyable, but can sometimes pose dangers to watergoers. National Safe Boating Week (May 21 – 27, 2011) is an opportunity to highlight the importance of safety precautions and sensible behavior when spending time on the water.”
As bareboat charter enthusiasts head to the Bahamas, Caribbean, New England and points in between, it seems the perfect time to take a few extra moments planning for safety on the water.
Here are four tips to help you stay safe:
1. Wear a Life Vest. Ok, you’ve rented a Bahamas bareboat sailboat, and you think you’ll look like a goof wearing the bulky day-glow PFD (professional floatation device) provided by the charter company. The solution, spend $100 or so on a vest that automatically inflates when needed. Take it home after the charter and use it on your personal boat.
2. Don’t Drink and Drive. We understand – the Virgin Islands yacht charter lifestyle is all about freedom. With freedom comes responsibility. You have your family and friends onboard your sail bareboat and their safety is your responsibility. Local police and marine patrol officers have beefed up enforcement to cut down on boating accidents. Local judges are now throwing the book at DUI boaters involved in an accident, and that just mean serious jail time.
3. Keep a Constant Watch. This rule is a basic as they come – it is always important to stay on watch and keep a good lookout. Many novice sailors do not know the rules of the road. By maintaining a look out, you’ll have an opportunity to spot potential danger and take evasive action to avoid trouble.
4. Steer Clear of Fast-moving Boats. The biggest concern we hear from luxury sailing charter customers in South Florida is that “the weekend warriors with the speedboats pay no attention to the smaller, slower vessels.” It’s sad, but true, and many accidents are the result of reckless boating involving high speeds. Stay away from other boats going fast. It’s so easy for many boaters to get distracted while driving fast and not see you. A simple solution is to always steer behind fast boats, no matter who has the right-of-way.
Can you think of another safety tip to help us carve out a “Top Five” list of boat safety tips? Submit your tip HERE as to what safety protocols you follow when you rent a private yacht for your island vacation. We’ll share your tips with our readers and send you a small than you gift, as well.