The Learning Center
Boating is a fantastic way to spend quality time with family and friends, enjoying relaxing free time and Charleston’s beautiful waterways. But as I write this month’s boating article, I am deeply saddened about a family who lost a loved one on a boat in the Charleston area today.
While I know nothing about what happened in this particular case, it is a sobering thought that all who operate a boat have a grave responsibility for the safety of their passengers. When learning to drive a car many years ago, my Mom constantly talked to me about defensive driving. That goes for boats too. While many others on the waterways are having a great time, captaining your vessel requires a sharp lookout, paying attention to everyone around you. There are no lanes or street signs, but there are rules that every boater should understand.
The first order of business is understanding the “rules of the road” through a boater’s education course. You can find many opportunities for boater education through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, US Power Squadron, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or other qualified boating trainers.
Secondly, be sure you have a good understanding of the operation of your particular boat and ensure that you and your passengers wear comfortable personal floatation devices. Ensure that you have all of the other appropriate safety equipment on board. Also, be sure to operate your boat at a safe speed, slowing when you are unfamiliar with the area. Invest in a good quality depth sounder and GPS system to help you understand the situation. Your dealer or trainer can help you with this part of the process.
Next, be sure that as the captain of your vessel, you take the responsibility of ensuring the safety of your passengers and yourself, understanding that others on the water may not be acting responsibly. This is the defensive driving aspect of boating. Pay attention to your surroundings, always keeping a sharp lookout 360 degrees around the boat, especially before making speed or course changes.
Like many dealers in the area, we at Duncan’s Boats take boating safety seriously and offer free boating education to all buyers and their families whether new or used. The really sad reality is that many do not take advantage of this important, but free, opportunity.
Boating is fun and relaxing, but safety must come first. There are plenty of opportunities to learn proper boating safety and etiquette. If you would like any help in finding the right resource for your situation, do not hesitate to give me a call at Duncan’s Boats.