Boating Safety - Are You Ready for Busy Waters?

 4 Things You Need to Know.

Are You Ready for Busy Waters? 4 Things You Need to Know.The best place to be on the weekends, especially three-day weekends, is the water. With summer weather underway, the lakes are beginning to fill with boaters and lake enthusiasts. Tubing, skiing, night cruises, fishing, swimming, and family time take place daily at the lakes this time of year. Before you start your weekend adventures, here are 4 boating safety tips to get you ready for busy waters.

1. Know when, where, and how to use your navigation lights.

When enjoying an evening cruise or casting a few lines at night, it is imperative to have proper navigation lighting for your boat. The required navigation lights differ depending on the type and size of your boat. For boats less than 39.4 ft in length, red and green sidelights must be visible from a distance of at least one mile away on a dark, clear night. The red light should be on the left (port) side of the bow and green on the right (starboard) side of the bow. An all-round white light or both a masthead light and a sternlight are also required. These lights must be visible from a distance of at least two miles away on a dark, clear night. The all-round white light (or the masthead light and sternlight) must be visible from all directions in a 360° circle. When boats are anchored or moored away from a dock, they are required to display a white light visible from all directions between sunset and sunrise.

For boats over 39.4 ft in length visit the US Coast Guard Navigation Rules for further details.

2. Listen and learn the meanings of sound signals or horns on the water.

All boaters should know proper sound signals, especially those boaters operating near commercial boat traffic. When you are on the water, there is a possibility of encountering restricted visibility such as fog. Sound signals used on the waterways are like the turn signals used on the highways. Sound signals can also be used like an automobile's horn to let other drivers know you are near or to alert them of danger. Short blasts, long blasts or a combination of both are used during communications. Short blasts are about 1 second in length and long blasts last 4-6 seconds each.

Sound signals for changes in course:

• One short blast – indicates you intend to pass the other boater on the port (left) side
• Two short blasts – indicates you intend to pass the other boater on the starboard (right) side
• Three short blasts – indicates you are backing up

Sound signals for location (used during restricted visibility):

• One prolonged blast at intervals of not more than two minutes is the signal used by power-driven boats when underway
• One prolonged blast plus two short blasts at intervals of not more than two minutes is the signal used by sailing boats

Sounds signals for warnings and alerts:

• One prolonged blast is a warning signal (for example, used when coming around a blind bend or leaving the dock)
• Five (or more) short, rapid blasts are used to signal danger or to signal that you do not understand or you disagree with another boater's intentions

3. Take note of right-away and passing boats on the water.

When hitting the water for a cruise, it is highly likely that you will not be the only boat on the water. It is important to understand proper procedures for encountering other boats and personal water crafts (PWC). If you are operating a power-driven boat, you must give way to boats not under command (anchored or disabled), boats engaged in commercial fishing, and any boats restricted in their ability to maneuver (towing, picking up navigation markers, etc.)

If you meet another boat or PWC head on during your course, both boaters must give way to each other. This is done by each boater turning thier boat to starboard (right).

Are You Ready for Busy Waters? Boating Safety: Head on Approaches

If you are encountering another boat or PWC on their port (left) side of the boat, you must give way and turn starboard (right).

Are You Ready for Busy Waters? Boating Safety: Crossing Paths

If you are overtaking another boat (coming up from the rear) the boat or PWC you are overtaking should maintain speed and you can pass on port or starboard.

Are You Ready for Busy Waters? Boating Safety: Overtaking

4. When to Reach, Throw, Row or Go for man overboard.

Unfortunately, boating accidents happen. The boating busy season increases these risks. Knowing how to handle these situations can be lifesaving. If a passenger of a boat goes overboard or falls off a dock, there are four options; reach, throw, row, or go. One or all may be required to make a successful rescue.

Use a nearby object in the boat or on shore such as a fishing pole, tree branch, or oar to reach out to the passenger and pull him or her to safety. You can also lay flat on the dock and reach to grab their hand.

For people that are too far away to reach, throw him or her a lifejacket, throw cushion, or any device that will allow them to stay afloat until they can be retrieved.

If a rowboat is available, row to the victim. If you are in a powered boat, stop the engine and glide to the person from the downwind side.

If none of the other approaches apply, go for help or, if you have proper training, swim to the person. If you have to go into the water for the person, take along anything that floats and can be used by both you and the person you are rescuing. Swimmers without lifesaving training should not swim and instead go for help.

Don’t lose sight of boating safety during the boating season. For more boating safety tips, check out BOATING SAFETY – 6 TIPS TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE WATER-READY.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about our boats, products and services, give us a call at 660-747-0388.