Boating is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable activities anyone can participate in. The prospect of heading out to the open sea to enjoy the wind, waves, and fresh air is enticing at any time of the year. But it is especially fulfilling around the holiday season when the opportunity to engage in a favorite pastime with friends and family presents itself.

Of course, there are many safety concerns to consider during the holidays, when many boat owners are out in full force. The end of the year is one of the peak seasons for boating, and it can get pretty crowded as you head out of the harbor. It is imperative to practice safe boating practices, given the potential for accidents and other mishaps during this busy period.

Most facilities have marina insurance, which protects marina owners and staff from potential liabilities and risk exposures. This type of insurance is essential for anyone engaged in the high-risk business of providing boating services and facilities.

But insurance is just as important for boat owners. Given the risks involved in operating water vessels and recreational vehicles, it is vital to have coverage for potential property damages and personal injuries that could occur.

Of course, insurance policies only provide coverage for incidents after the fact. When a property is damaged or people are injured due to activities involving a boat or some other type of water vehicle, insurance will help pay the policyholder’s settlement costs and legal expenses.

Apart from getting insurance, marina clients should also exercise caution when taking their boats out on a ride. Prevention is always better than a cure, which is why keeping safety in mind is so essential for anyone else who operates water vessels. Just as safe driving tips can reduce the possibility of road accidents, water safety tips can minimize the risk of untoward incidents when using boats.

Here are some boating safety tips that marina clients should take to heart:

Minimize or eliminate all potential distractions

Distractions can be just as dangerous on the water as on the road. They can cause the driver to lose focus and get in the way of operating the vessel, possibly causing an accident.

Before starting the engine, boat operators should minimize or eliminate anything that could potentially be a distraction. These include loud music, cellphones, unnecessary conversations, overly festive companions, or anything that could adversely affect safety, focus, and concentration.

Make wearing life jackets standard practice

Life jackets are just as important as seatbelts are to car drivers and passengers. They protect the wearer from any incident that causes them to fall into the water and could buy them some time before a coast guard vessel or rescue personnel arrive on the scene. If the worst does happen, a life jacket could spell the difference between life and death.

Life jackets are only as useful as their ability to protect the wearer. They should be attached securely and fit properly to provide optimum protection.

Maintain sobriety when operating water vessels

This is one other safety tip that applies equally to car drivers and boat operators. Under no circumstances should boat owners operate water vessels under the influence of drugs or liquor. In fact, it would be best to avoid anything that could impair function, affect mobility, or cloud judgment.

Boat owners should remember that operating a vessel is akin to operating large machinery and that they are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone on board. If the owner can’t resist joining in on the festivities, it might be best to assign a designated driver.

Be aware of weather and environmental conditions

Boat owners should always check the weather before heading out. The weather can turn quickly in some areas, so it is important to make sure that weather reports are updated. It is also advisable to monitor radio bulletins and keep track of weather updates in case conditions suddenly take a turn for the worse.

Be prepared for anything

Any trip out to sea should begin with a thorough inspection of the vessel. Even if it is just for a few hours or a quick spin around the bay, checking the engine, fuel system, and communications devices beforehand will go a long way toward easing any concerns. In the worst-case scenario, these precautions could even save the lives of everyone on board.

It is also good to develop a “float” plan, including how long the trip is expected to last, everyone on board’s names and contact information, and other essential information. This information should be left with marina personnel or a trusted friend or family member.

As you can see, many of the safety practices involved in operating land vehicles also apply to water vessels. By keeping these tips in mind and exercising caution, boat owners and operators can reduce many risks in engaging in their favorite activity.

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.