Stay safe on water

Everything’s different on a boat. The words you use, the clothes you wear, and especially the dangers you face. Thankfully, this off-the-pier primer on boating safety provides tons of pointers for staying smart aboard your vessel .

Sadly, lack of boat safety is a major concern, and not just for the newly nautical. Take a look at some revealing statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard:
50 percent of boating accidents are caused by operator error

Safety tips for handling your boat

In case the lack of wheels, doors, and bumper stickers didn’t tip you off, your boat is way different from your car. Point being, the driving expertise you’ve gleaned from the road won’t translate very well to the water.

Whether you’re well-seasoned in the waves or are just learning how to operate a boat, it’s helpful to brush up on boat driving tips so you can leave accidents in your wake.

Wear your life jacket
Making the case for life jackets is pretty easy, really. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, you’re 6 times as likely to drown in a boating accident if you forgo a life jacket. With odds like that, your best bet is this handy addition to your boating attire.

Don’t drink and drive
This is sound advice on any vehicle, but especially a boat. It’s estimated that just one drink on the water is equivalent to 3 on land. This means your reflexes can go south quicker than you realize and just a little drinking can spell big danger.

Plan your moves in advance
Unlike cars, boats aren’t built for sudden maneuvers. Whether you’re evading an oncoming boater, slowing for a restricted zone, or approaching a dock, it’s much easier to make small adjustments early on than drastic ones at the last second.

Attach a kill switch
The kill switch connects to the ignition on one end and goes around your wrist on the other. If you’re ever thrown out of position (or completely out of the boat!), the ignition will cut off to prevent your boat from running amok without you at the wheel.

Dock with caution
Contrary to popular belief, injuries can happen just as easily while idling toward the dock as they can while zipping along open water.

Two common mistakes to avoid in particular:

Positioning yourself or others between the boat and dock as human fenders — even (supposedly) minimal impact can cause major injuries.
Jumping out of the vessel before it’s tied down — your momentum actually pushes the boat farther away, so that bunny hop you anticipated could become an Olympic leap once you’re mid-air.
Use common sense
Successfully avoiding dangerous situations is a result of making good decisions throughout, such as operating at a safe speed, keeping an eye out for low-water areas, and respecting buoy zones.

Take a boating safety course
Boat driving tips can vary slightly depending on your type of vessel. That’s why it’s a good idea to enroll in a boating safety course. No matter which wave-skimming watercraft you prefer, a boating safety course will help ensure you have all the knowledge to use it properly.

Start a free boat insurance quote

Despite the best boat handling tips, accidents can still happen. And that’s why there’s boat insurance.

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