The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. Summer is coming and that means the boating season has arrived. Also, after more than a year of fatigue in quarantine and coming off masks for fully vaccinated people, many are hitting the waterways in our region and that includes many new boaters on the water. In 2020, boat sales have jumped over 12% in the state and this year, so far, has followed suit.
May 21-27 is National Safe Boating Week. Friday 21st is the kickoff event of the week with the Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. Using the hashtags #WearItWa and #safeboatingweek, you can share your photos with a life jacket.
Everyone aboard a boat or human-powered boat, such as a paddleboard or kayak, must wear a properly fitted Coast Guard approved life jacket. The waterways in the region are cold, colder than 60 degrees. The shock of cold water when falling into water is the main cause of drowning. In recent years, about 3 in 4 boating victims were not wearing life jackets. Rescue teams note that they cannot find any drowning victims wearing life jackets. Visit www.wearitwashington.org to learn more about today’s comfortable life jackets. # cold water safety
Did you know that all boater operators and paddlers need a Boater Education Card? It is important to learn about the rules of the road on the water, boating safety and more, before go on the water. More than 80 percent of Washington boat operators do not have a Boater Education Card. Visit www.boatered.org for how to get one, including easy online courses.
Communication is essential on the water. Boaters should have two means of communication that will work when wet, such as a whistle and a waterproof marine radio and telephone. Flares, a signal mirror and a horn will help you in an emergency so that responders can find you. Make sure all of these communication tools are on board before setting off on the water.
Check the marine weather forecast before heading out on the water. Know before you go. If there are any advisories or warnings, or unfavorable weather, tide, and current conditions, consider another day to enjoy the water. And while you’re on the water, keep an eye on the NOAA Weather Radio to stay alert. Remember, when you are aware of the weather, you are ready for the weather.
Boat owners and operators are responsible for the safety of everyone on board. Riding a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, is illegal and dangerous. Always appoint a sober skipper. Washington’s Boating Under The Influence Act applies to all boats, including human-powered boats like canoes, rowboats, and inflatables. For more information on sober boating, visit www.boatsober.org.
And when it comes to human powered paddle steamers, be sure to label your boat with an “ if found ” sticker. The sticker with the owner’s name and phone number will help avoid costly search and rescue efforts for a paddle steamer found with no one on board. Get a sticker online or contact the US Coast Guard Auxiliary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go on this sunset cruise on your kayak, paddleboard, jet ski, or boat, just remember the rules or the water, National Boating Safety Week is all about getting ready for the water. With longer days and warmer weather, enjoy the waterways of our region. Just do it safely.