What do non-boaters need to know about safety on the water?
Georgia DNR official Mark McKinnon talks tips for people not on a boat (such as kayakers, jet skis, etc. ) and what they need to know regarding the water.
Savannah Morning News
Carl Ericsson is the education officer of the Tybee Light Sail and Power Squadron.
Safe boating can be divided into several parts.
First, safe use of your boat. As skipper, have you notified your crew of the safety equipment, life jackets, fire extinguisher and first aid kit? The Coast Guard will stop you and check for the basic equipment required. But you are responsible for telling your crew where it is and how to use it.
Second, is situational awareness. Because a skipper, you can tell people where to sit and put equipment for the safe balance associated with the boat. Consider these questions: Can you start your boat, safely load occupants, pull away from the dock, get it up on plane and trim the boat out? Can you slow the boat down safely, make sure all the fenders and lines are ready and safely bring the boat to the dock? Keeping these in mind makes for a good, safe skipper.
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Next, and equally important in the Savannah area, is the particular safe navigation of the waters around us. Many people, myself included, learn how to boat on a lake. That’s great and a great way to enjoy boating.
However, the Savannah area has its own unique challenges. We have large tides and swift currents. They have surprised many experienced boaters new to this area.
We have rivers, streams, creeks, sounds and access to the particular ocean. Each one requires experience. Many of us have gone out for the fun day of sailing, only to turn around at Calibogue Sound when the waves went over the front of the boat. Many of all of us have run aground because we were following the particular charts and didn’t realize that an area is only a few inches deep at low tide.
Savannah is honored as well as challenged to have the Intra-State Waterway (ICW) traveling through our state from South Carolina to Florida. First, if you don’t know what a red and green beacon or buoy means , you going to be within trouble. There are some tight ICW turns that require your full attention.
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We also are usually host to a large number of boats of all sizes heading south down the ICW within the fall and back up north in the spring. We can’t blame them for getting away from the snow, but a person have to realize that the 50-foot cruiser is putting out quite a wake and you must position your boat to avoid being swamped. He isn’t going to slow down for you.
Lastly, you too are responsible for your own wake, and if you are passing a kayak, a fishing boat at anchor or a sailboat, your wake will impact them. Be aware of the impact your boating has on others. Slow down, if necessary, in order to avoid upsetting their boat. Slow down, just to reduce the size of your wake, then speed up after passing them. It will only take a few seconds and you will be so much more courteous.
And remember, accidents happen in just seconds. Always be on the lookout with regard to a potential collision, and regarding others boaters who may be in distress plus need your help. Teach the other members of your crew to look out also.
Boating is fun, and we want it to remain so. Safe boating!