With a name like the Golden Isles, it’s no surprise that water plays a big part in the character and appeal of the area. The name itself conjures up images of the tide swinging up and down and back again among marshes and beaches.
As such, it is also a popular area for boating. Whether it’s people enjoying a fishing trip or just a day out on the water, you can see many vessels on the coasts and offshore. This also puts a premium on the safety of boaters.
You don’t have to search long to find incidents of boaters in unsafe situations. If you follow the Coast Guard Southeast District Twitter feed, you’ll see plenty of articles about boaters in distress who had to be rescued. Five people were rescued off Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday when the 57-foot boat they were on caught fire. Fortunately, with the help of the Coast Guard and a Good Samaritan, everyone survived the disaster.
Unfortunately, not all boaters in distress have had this chance. Memorial Day weekend saw 15 lives lost in area waters, according to the Coast Guard. During the three-day period, the Coast Guard handled 58 search and rescue cases at its stations in the southeast.
If you’re planning on going on a fishing trip or spending a day on the water, following a few simple rules can help increase your chances of returning to shore in the event of a disaster. It starts before you leave the dock.
First and foremost, be sure to tell someone where you plan to go and when you plan to return. If the worst-case scenario happens, it will help the Coast Guard and others know where you were going so they can “take the search out of search and rescue” as the local flotilla commander said. Coast Guard Dan Hagan to The News this week.
Second, make sure you are ready for your trip. This means you need to make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board. They can be uncomfortable, but they literally save lives, as Hagan said 70% of the deaths the Coast Guard is investigating did not wear life jackets.
Third, don’t drink alcohol while riding a boat and be careful of what everyone else is doing. The captain of the local charter, Kevin Dezern, told us that these are his two main rules for travel, and we can only agree. You shouldn’t drink and drive on land. This same rule should apply when out on the water.
Boating should be a fun business, but it’s only a successful trip if everyone comes back ashore. Follow the rules and stay safe this summer when you’re out on the water.