Boating will always be one of the most rewarding pastimes available along Florida’s Space Coast. Experienced boaters are as eager to share stories of unfortunate incidents as they are to share stories of good times. The team at Hayley’s Jet Ski and Boat Rental hopes their advice helps you avoid some common mistakes made by inexperienced boaters. Let’s look at some boating dos and don’ts.
Install the drain plug(s) before launching. Water is not always your friend, especially in a boat.
Leave the strap on the trailer winch connected until the boat is in the water. When boats slide from the trailer and scrape/drop to the concrete ramp, damage is virtually unavoidable.
Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. New styles offer improved comfort and flexibility.
Take the time to teach all passengers about the safety devices on the boat. Make sure they know where the fire extinguishers, PFDs, and VHF are, and more importantly, how to use them. It’s also a good idea to show passengers how to start the boat and cut the engine.
If people are swimming or playing in the water near the boat, shut off the engine. Be wise. Use an engine cut-off device just in case the boat operator takes an unexpected tumble overboard. The engine will cut-off automatically.
Familiarize yourself with the area you will visit on this boating adventure. Get a paper chart or map to bring in a water tight container. GPS only works if the signals and batteries hold out.
Share your float plan with family and friends. The more people that know where you plan to go will make it easier to locate you should something happen.
Keep an eye on the weather. Check the local forecast for the area and continue to check during your time on the water. Florida weather, especially in the afternoons, can change quickly.
Do learn and observe nautical rules. Pay attention to local boating speed zones and lane usage.
Pay attention to your surroundings. A large portion of boating accidents are caused by inattention. It is safest to assume no one else is paying attention. That way, you are prepared to change course before an incident develops.
Learn how to get your GPS to show coordinates. Next, make sure you can relay those coordinates to the Coast Guard or other potential helpers.
Bring fresh water and snacks. You may be in the middle of a body of water, but it is of no use to you if it will make you sick.
Always help other boaters in distress. Being in trouble when on a big body of water is not only scary but could be life threatening. If you were the one in trouble, you would hope for help.
Don’t block the boat ramp. You are not the only person who is excited to get on the water. Unless you are the only person at the ramp, pull off to the side to get your boat ready.
Don’t overload your boat. There’s no worse time to realize the boat could not handle the weight than when you’re out in the middle of the water.
Don’t litter. Keep your trash and recyclables contained on your boat.
Don’t stand up in small boats if you hope to stay dry. Pick appropriate times to move about on larger boats, so a quick acceleration doesn’t toss you in the water.
If a seat is not designated for passengers, don’t ride on it. Avoid sitting on the gunwale, bow, or seat backs for safety’s sake.
Don’t be the one seen speeding into a no wake zone. Respect the signs. Florida’s wildlife thanks you. Besides, if you’re the only one speeding, your lookout should be calling you out to slow down.
Don’t throw an anchor. Simply lower it over the side of the boat. A quick toss could result in the rope wrapping around equipment or ankles, potentially taking more into the water than just the anchor.
Don’t anchor too close to other boats or too close to areas known for high boat traffic. Steer clear of commercial shipping areas.
Don’t get too close to boats that are pulling skiers or tubers.
Don’t play chicken on a boat. Maintain a safe distance, especially at cruising speeds. Never approach anything faster than you want to hit it.
Hayley’s Jet Ski and Boat Rental offers boating lessons to new boaters or those looking to brush up on skills. Taking the time to do things right will help avoid some of the common mistakes made by new boaters. Get ready to relax and enjoy the thrill of a new adventure as you take to the waterways along Florida’s Space Coast.