By Steve Waters
Holidays are a busy boating time on South Florida waterways, which means boaters need to pay extra attention to what’s happening all around them, especially during the upcoming July 4 th weekend.
Boating is one of the country’s most popular pastimes, and an extremely safe activity considering that millions of Americans enjoy themselves on oceans, bays, lakes and rivers without incident. Most of the relatively few accidents that do occur could have been easily prevented given a little knowledge.
That’s the aim of organizations such as the Water Sports Foundation, which emphasizes the importance of boating safety during the July 4 weekend, which is one of the busiest boating holidays.
Boater education classes are a great place to start, especially for new boaters. There they can learn the rules of the road as well as what safety equipment, both mandatory and optional, they should have on their boats.
Nautical Ventures Marine, which has five boat dealerships in Florida and also sponsors the Weekly Fisherman radio show, which airs from 6-8 a.m. Saturday on WINZ 940-AM and live-streams on the Nautical Ventures Facebook page, sells all the safety gear needed by boaters, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.
Those who purchase a boat from NVM receive a safety bag with personal flotation devices, also known as life jackets, and other goodies. Kayak and paddleboard buyers are encouraged to purchase PFDs and safety flags, whistles and strobes so they can be seen and heard by boaters. NVM also sells EPIRBs, which are emergency locator beacons that send a signal to a satellite that lets rescue authorities know that you’re in trouble, as well as flares, ditch kits and survival rafts.
One of the most innovative safety items NVM sells is the Throw Raft. Packed in its bag, the raft takes up minimal space. When thrown in the water to someone who’s fallen overboard, it auto-inflates so the person can rest on top of it. Having the raft on a kayak or several rafts on a boat could be life-saving in the event of a sinking. The Throw Raft can be re-armed and used multiple times.
The Water Sports Foundation notes that as of April 1, 2021, federal law requires personal watercraft and most boats under 26 feet to have cut-off switches, which used to be known as kill switches. A lanyard attached to the boat’s driver disconnects if the driver strays too far from the helm or falls or goes overboard, which shuts off the boat’s motor.
Drinking while boating is another concern. Intoxicated drivers can cause accidents and be cited by law enforcement for boating under the influence. Intoxicated passengers also are a safety hazard because they can fall overboard and drown. That’s where life jackets can be life savers.
According to the Water Sports Foundation, where the cause of death was known, 86 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Although some jackets are bulky and restrictive, an inflatable PFD is so lightweight that it’s easy to forget you’re wearing one.
For more boating and fishing tips, listen to The Nautical Ventures Weekly Fisherman radio show every Saturday morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. live on 940 WINZ, an iHeart station. You’ll learn where the fish are biting and how to catch them. If you can’t tune in live, the Weekly Fisherman radio podcasts are available through:
iHeart Radio: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/53-weekly-fisherman-28270572/
You can also watch the show on Facebook Live by liking our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Nautical-Ventures-Weekly-Fisherman-Show-136020173136939
You can watch past Facebook live shows at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Nautical-Ventures-Weekly-Fisherman-Show-136020173136939