Boating is a major activity in the state of Florida. Considering the state’s climate and beautiful wonders, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. However, having a good time on the water requires people to take care in keeping both boaters and those around them safe. Here we will mention a few tips that will make your time on the water enjoyable for everyone involved.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Shifting winds can cause the sky to go from clear to stormy in short order. The last place you would want to be when the weather changes would be out in the open water. Be sure to check the forecast before you leave port and keep an eye on the sky. If you notice unexpected clouds forming, especially dark ones, head back to port.
Understand Your Surroundings
In addition to the weather, other factors can change the mood of your trip for the worse. For instance, don’t assume that other boaters are paying attention to you. If you see that other watercraft are getting uncomfortably close, be proactive about getting out of the way of danger. Also, try to avoid shallow channels whenever possible. Having a fish finder or dedicated depth gauge will help you to avoid areas where you might get stuck. Lastly, avoid stationary objects such as buoys and piers, since an unexpected wave or current can cause a collision if you are too close.
Remember That the Ocean Is Alive
Perhaps one of Florida’s greatest resources is its sea life. Inattentive boaters cause major damage to these animals every year. For instance, boating accidents are the direct cause of up to 30% of all manatee deaths yearly. This can either be due to propeller injuries in slow-moving boats or blunt force injuries from fast-moving boats. While manatees aren’t the only animals injured by boaters, they are one of the high-profile victims. Try to stay out of areas where you may find larger animals, such as areas with seagrass or areas posted with signs.
Create a Float Plan
A float plan is a detailed description of where you’ll be when you’ll be there, who you’ll be with, and any other pertinent information. Leave this with a responsible person that will have it available if you don’t return to port when you had originally planned. This may make it easier to find you if you come upon any problems while out on the water.
The state of Florida only requires those who were born on or after January 1st, 1988 to take a Boating Safety Education course, but it would be a good idea for anyone else to take it as well. This course teaches the best practices of boating in the state and what to do if something goes wrong. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says that statistically, middle-aged and older males are more likely to be involved in a boating accident. This course teaches the best practices of boating in the state and what to do if something goes wrong. Having the training to deal with or avoid the accident altogether is not only smart, it could save a life or two.
With almost one million boats registered in the state, boating in Florida is here to stay, as it should be. Not only is it a source of income and pride for the state, but it also gives locals and visitors a chance to enjoy time with their friends and family. By following a few simple guidelines and being prepared before leaving port, boaters can make sure that it can be a great experience for not only themselves but everyone involved, including the manatees.