Make sure every passenger has a Coast Guard-approved PFD. Photo courtesy Water Sports Foundation
by Wanda Kenton Smith
Regal & Nautique of Orlando warmly welcomes you and your family to the water!
If you’ve recently purchased a boat or are considering making an investment in the boating lifestyle, our team is here to assist you throughout the process. Our #1 goal is to help you find the best boat for your lifestyle and budget!
In addition to helping you throughout the purchasing process, we strongly advocate for boating safety and want to ensure you and your family and friends enjoy a fun and safe boating experience.
With that in mind, here are 5 top tips we’ve prepared for boating newbies… also good refreshers for the seasoned salts among us!
#1: Always Be Prepared.
Statistically speaking, boating is a low-risk activity with plenty of positive contributors to your state of mind and healthy well-being. Like anything, however, an unexpected incident can take the fun out of your day.
If you’re new to boating, we highly recommend you enroll in a boating safety course or invest in 1:1 instruction before heading out on the water. There are important “rules of the road” for the waterways you need to understand to safely operate your vessel and to keep your passengers safe.
For your convenience, we have prepared a separate blog featuring available recommendations for boating safety and education resources – click here. In addition, here’s a smart Boating Safety Guide provided by our friends at #DiscoverBoating with a great checklist to review.
#2: Always Provide Life Jackets for Everyone.
It’s a fact: life jackets save lives.
It’s also a fact: life jackets are required by law.
Make sure your boat is equipped with Coast Guard-approved PFDs (personal flotation devices) for every member of your crew and that they are fitted correctly and designed for the activities you plan to undertake.
According to the FWC, skiing without a PFD is a minor misdemeanor. In addition, “any person 12 years or younger who is a passenger on a vessel less than 26 feet in length shall wear a proper PFD.” And, “any person operating or manipulating, or who is a passenger on a PWC, water skis, sailboard, parasail or similar device shall wear a proper PFD.”
The good news – today’s PFDs have come a long way from those big bulky orange jackets of yesteryear. Choose from plenty of cool PFDs now available for boaters of all ages and activities.
#3: Always Designate a Sober Skipper.
Boating is a blast and it’s a great time to kick back, relax and enjoy time with friends and family.
However, did you know that boating under the influence is the #1 cause of fatal boating accidents? Drinking and driving simply don’t mix.
RNO is proud to support the good work of Ride Dry, Drive Dry www.ridedrydrivedry.com and the Sea Tow Foundation’s Sober Skipper initiative included at www.boatingsafety.com
Be informed. Be smart. Never drink and drive.
#4: Always Watch the Weather.
If there’s one thing all Floridians know, Mother Nature is unpredictable. In fact, it’s not unusual to start off with a bright sunny day in the summer and encounter afternoon storms.
With this in mind, boaters should always pay close attention to weather forecasts and plan outings and times accordingly. Our friends at #DiscoverBoating have prepared “10 Best Marine Weather Apps for Boaters” at www.discoverboating.com/resources/best-marine-weather-apps They have also prepared Weather Safety Tips for Boaters for additional insight.
Be smart – watch the weather every time you plan a boating activity.
#5: Build Your Confidence, One Trip at a Time.
If you’re a new boater, we know you’re excited to get out there and experience all the fun and excitement of the boating life!
However, we recommend easing into the experience with short trips to get you acclimated and to build confidence. For example, if it’s your maiden voyage, don’t plan a cruise to the Bahamas or launch an all-day trip down the St. John’s River. Wait to tackle these bigger adventures until you have your sea legs and plenty of experience under your belt.
We also highly recommend you avoid heading to busy hubs with lots of boats and activities until you’re comfortable and confident navigating in crowded conditions. If you want to venture to popular boating spots, consider asking a more seasoned boater to take you along for a ride on their boat first as a learning experience.
Pace yourself and gain valuable experience each time you head out. Before long, you’ll be ready for more challenging adventures!
While certainly not all-inclusive, we hope these tips help you as you embrace the fun and excitement of the boating lifestyle! If you have questions or want to recommend additional boating tips for our Boaters' Lounge, email Wanda@OrlandoNautiques.com