Law Blog


Preparing for Your First Boating Excursion

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Private Boat Trip: Scenic Sorrento & Capri - Withlocals

If you are bored with your usual summer activities and want to try a new form of adventure, consider boating. This pastime requires a good deal of preparation, but the work that you must put into the process is well worth the fun that you will have on the water.

Pick a Craft

There are many kinds of boats, and which one is best for you depends on your age, health, fitness level and budget. If you love to get a good workout on your own or with one friend, purchase a kayak or canoe. However, if you want to enjoy a luxurious trip on the water with your friends and family, a pontoon is a better option. Don’t rush into this decision, as boats are significant investments and you do not want to buy a model that you don’t like.

Learn About Water Safety

Boating is a fun hobby, but it is slightly dangerous, particularly if you do not have good water safety skills. Everyone who comes aboard your boat must know how to swim. If some of your passengers are incapable of swimming because of their ages or injuries, then someone must agree to be responsible for them at all times. All children must constantly wear lifejackets, even the ones who know how to swim. Adults should also wear them, but if you cannot talk a guest into wearing one, be sure to bring extras along with you. The shock of going overboard can lead to emergencies no matter how good of a swimmer someone is.

Prepare for Emergencies

Making sure that everyone can swim is a good step towards emergency preparedness, but it is not the only task that you have. Pack emergency equipment such as a first aid kit, automated external defibrillator (AED) and extra water in a safe location on your boat. Bring your fully charged cell phone with you in a waterproof case, and if you are boating in an area that does not have reliable cell service, also pack a wireless radio that is capable of calling for help. Before you set out, check the day’s weather and be aware of any threats from wildlife. For example, if you are boating on a river near the ocean, check the migratory patterns for sharks to see if you and your guests can safely swim.  

Learn About Your Legal Responsibilities

Laws govern your behavior even when you are not on land. In fact, a special set of codes called maritime law governs people’s behavior while sailing on the oceans. Most of these laws involve commercial issues, but you should still check your state’s guidelines before setting out. Also, if you are going on an extended trip keep in mind the fact that laws vary depending on what state and country you are in.

If you plan to begin boating this summer, take the time to research your options and learn about water safety now. Then, when it’s time to hit the water, you can safely enjoy your first cruise.