Highlighting the Dangers of Swimming in Marinas

Highlighting the Dangers of Swimming in Marinas

At first glance, it might seem that a marina is the perfect place to swim. With plenty of platforms to dive off, boats to hang on to, and even people to rescue you if needed, swimming in the local harbor can be a tempting prospect.

But there are many reasons why doing so is a bad idea. At the very least, swimmers can cause a great deal of inconvenience to marina owners and other guests. At worst, swimming in a marina can result in serious injury and even death.

As marina owners, your clients are responsible for ensuring the safety of people renting dock space, and to some extent, even their guests. Negligence or direct action leading to losses, damage, or personal injury could result in them facing a liability claim. When that happens, only marina insurance could save them from financial ruin.

Why is marina swimming so dangerous? What are the risks involved when people take a dip in the waters surrounding the ports? Here are some of the many things that could go wrong:

Electric shock

Not many people are aware of it, but there is a significant risk of electric shock every time they jump into marina waters for a swim. Most modern boats of significant size have some type of electrical system onboard, with a ground wire that directs excess current toward the shore.

The problem is when the ground wire breaks, the cord gets frayed, or the external insulation becomes worn. When that happens, the current that should be directed safely to shore ends up in the water. And when a hapless swimmer comes along, the electric charge received could be enough to cause paralysis, severe burn injuries, or death.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Another little-known threat when swimming in a marina is carbon monoxide poisoning. Fuel-driven boats emit the potentially deadly gas from their drive motors and generators. In most cases, the concentration could reach lethal levels even after only a few minutes of idling or cruising at slow speeds.

Severe physical injury

Anyone who takes a dip in the waters surrounding a marina risks serious injury from the many hazards present in most facilities. The most obvious of these are propellers, which can cause severe injury and even death if a person comes in contact with them while the boat is running. Heavy equipment and machinery also pose a significant safety risk, especially if the operators are unaware of the presence of swimmers in the water.

Infection and poisoning

The waters around the marina may look cool, clean, and inviting. But they often harbor harmful microorganisms and chemical substances that could make people seriously ill even after only a few minutes of exposure.

Sewage runoff from nearby communities can increase the concentration of waterborne pathogens in the immediate vicinity, possibly causing disease or infection. There are also human-made pollutants to worry about such as excess fuel, chemical solutions, grease, and more. Any of these could irritate the skin and eyes, and possibly cause more serious health problems.


Drowning is also a serious risk when swimming in a marina. Because these facilities aren’t intended for water leisure activities, there are often no systems or mechanisms in place that help ensure safe swimming, such as handholds and lifeguards.

Furthermore, there are usually many large and heavy pieces of equipment and ropes and cables to get caught in, further heightening the risk. Add to that the tide changes, strong and treacherous currents, and unfamiliar setting, and you can see why swimming in a marina is a bad idea all around.


These are only some of the tragic incidents that could occur when people swim in and around a marina. Any one of these could result in serious physical injury and possibly even be fatal.

As marina owners, your clients should prohibit swimming or any other water activity on the premises. Keep in mind that they might be held liable for any loss or damage that occurs to person and property. Therefore, it is in their best interests to prevent guests from swimming in the marina.

Signs prohibiting swimming should be posted prominently at key areas around the facility. It is also a good idea to fence in sections that won’t be used for docking and gaining entry to the boats. And as always, your clients should make sure that their marina insurance is paid up to protect them from potential liabilities.

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.