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Home » Boat Safety
abril 13, 2023

Boat Safety

 Boat Safety 

With warmer weather, and summer right around the corner, you have a perfect excuse to get out on the water. There are close to a million registered vessels in the state of Florida. Chances are that many boaters you will encounter are either inexperienced, underage, or have no boat insurance. The likelihood that you or someone you know may encounter trouble on the waterways is great. It is always important to cover your investments in case of an accident or costly repairs. It may not be a matter of whether you will need insurance, but a matter of when. Many insurance companies offer services, similar to roadside assistance, that cover towing, jump starts, delivery of fuel, disentanglement, and soft grounding assistance. For a small monthly cost, you can have peace of mind.


Although you do not need a boater’s license in Florida, you are encouraged, and may receive a discount, for having completed a boating safety course. When it comes to boating you should take the same precautions as you do in a car. Operate your vehicle defensively. It is also important to be aware of the leading causes of injury and accidents. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, there were 751 reported boating accidents in 2021. 33% of all accidents were caused by collisions. Of 59 fatalities, 23% involved were due to alcohol or drug use, while 22% were from boaters falling overboard and drowning. 324 of these accidents resulted in 469 injured persons.                       (see



Unfortunately, Florida holds the dubious title of the state with the most boating accidents in the country (804); more than other coastal states such as California (493) and Texas (281). Florida also leads the country with the number of boating fatalities. So, what are the leading causes of these boating accidents? Here is a list of the five leading causes:

1. Inexperienced Boat Operators

Florida is rather lenient when it comes to requirements for operating a personal watercraft. You have to be over the age of 14, and if you were born on or after January 1, 1988, you have to pass a boating safety education class, but that’s about the extent of it. This means that many boat operators lack experience and confidence when it comes to navigating waterways, and their lack of expertise can be particularly dangerous during the warmer season (from May to August when the number of accidents increases). If you want to rent or buy a boat and have limited experience operating one, keep in mind that you can still choose to take a boat education class even if it isn’t legally required. You will receive a discount on your insurance as well as improving your skills.   It’s also a good idea to make sure any passengers you plan to take with you are familiar with boat safety rules and wear life vests.

 2. Mechanical Failure

If you own and operate a boat, it’s your responsibility to perform routine maintenance checks to ensure everything is working before you take it out on the water. When boat owners or rental companies fail to properly inspect vessels, their negligence can result in serious accidents. To ensure safe, worry-free sailing, regularly check the engine, steering, rescue capacity, communication system, and navigational lights (if there’s any chance you’ll be out after dark). If you’re not experienced with boat maintenance, take your vessel to a professional. Attempting to limit expenses by skipping the maintenance can cost you dearly.

If you rent a boat, remember that companies that rent boats have a duty to perform regular maintenance checks on all their vessels. However, you should still ask the company if the boat you are renting has recently been inspected. If the boating company assures you that the boat will function perfectly and you later experience a mechanical failure that endangers you and your passengers, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.

 3. Weather

The weather in Florida can change quickly. Even when the skies look clear, you may find yourself unexpectedly facing torrential rain or high winds. Inclement weather may be too difficult for even an experienced boat operator to handle. This leads to accidents such as capsizing or even sinking. As a boat operator, you should always check the weather forecast in the morning before you head out. If there’s a chance of rain, high winds, or rough seas, don’t take your boat out. In case the forecast does look good, you should still check your safety equipment ahead of time and be prepared for sudden weather changes.

4. Alcohol

While it might be tempting to crack open a beer or two while you are enjoying a day of boating, you need to stay sober if you’re the operator. The use of alcohol is the single biggest cause of boating accidents, accounting for a third of recreational boating fatalities across the country. Just like driving under the influence, drinking, and operating a boat is illegal under federal law. Sadly, not everyone recognizes the risks of operating a boat while drinking. They may assume that they will be fine since there is “less to run into” on water than on roads. However, there are still other boats, jet skis, swimmers, docks, and other obstacles that an impaired boat driver can hit. Drunk boat operators and drunk passengers are also at increased risk of falling overboard and drowning.

5. Be aware of your surroundings

Situational awareness is important in order to avoid collisions, groundings, or coming too close into contact with other vehicles or swimmers.

Situational awareness means:

  • having a good perception of your surroundings at all times
  • comprehending what’s happening around you
  • predicting how this will affect your boat.

Here is what you need to know in order to have good situational awareness: Be aware of your environment. This includes looking out for other vessels in the area (especially smaller ones), communicating with other vessels, checking the weather, the depth of the water, and the tide, currents, and wake. Situational awareness also includes knowing your vehicle. It is essential that you know your boat’s configuration, equipment, and systems. These systems include auto pilot, radar, GPS, AIS, compass, and propulsion. Spatial orientation is also important. In short, you should know the geographical position of the boat at all times. Finally, manage time for things like fuel status and always allow time for unplanned events or emergencies. Put simply, situational awareness means having an accurate understanding of what is happening around you and what is likely to happen at all times.

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