Common sense is a term that should not be used too freely in the boating world. Boat operators are making mistakes that can be easily avoided with just a little thought and care.
With that in mind, we wanted to compile a list of actions that can lead to detrimental results, followed by suggestions to help drivers avoid an oops moment or two. Every one of the “suggestions” contained here really amounts to nothing more than sound reasoning and common sense. Think before you act, and you’ll quickly see the wisdom in paying attention.
Over stretching your skill level
Whether on a dare or out of sheer ignorance, exceeding one’s skill limits can prove disastrous. Stories such as four NFL players fishing 40 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico in bad weather; three of the four died.
Recently, a major-league pitching phenom was speeding back into port at night without any night-navigation skills or experience; he and his passengers died when he ran the boat up onto the outer jetty.
Off-center hole shots
Always make sure the helm of your boat is straight. Do not leave it turned to one side or the other. When taking off, this can lead to your boat taking in lots of water.
Most boats today don’t have such a problem, but why take a chance. Always check that your helm is centered prior to giving it the gas.
If your boat suffers from dramatic bowrise when you advance the throttle, never start-up without adding tabs and/or making sure the outboard or outdrives are in the full-down position.
After getting on plane, ease off on the tabs and raise the drives to cruise configuration.
It’s for good reason that airport trams make announcements such as “The train is about to move. Please hold on.” If you aren’t holding on, you can fall down and be injured.
Same thing applies to boats. Never throttle up without everyone aboard being aware it’s about to happen! Ask, “Everybody ready?”
Don’t get outrageous in your maneuvers. Someone will get hurt. In fact, you should warn all your passengers prior to any “dramatic” maneuver.
Not matching speeds to conditions
Just because a boat can exceed 60 mph doesn’t mean it should always go fast. A boat’s speed should be such that the ride is smooth enough to not throw any passengers around.
Remember, the ride is never as rough for the helmsman as it is for the passengers! Be considerate of everyone on the boat — and of the boat itself.
Trimming too much
Yes, trimming the boat’s bow down in a chop makes the ride smoother, to a point. But over-trimming can cause something called bow-steer, where the boat suddenly and unexpectedly swerves in one direction or another. That’s scary and dangerous.
While various types of line might work to tow skiers and water toys, don’t use any line other than polypropylene. It’s the only material that floats, helping to keep it out of the prop.
If you are towing another vessel, don’t let anyone stand near or in-line with the tow rope. If it breaks under high tension, it could remove a body part someone might miss.
If you own a boat and want to make sure you’re covered for accidents such as these, please feel free to reach out to us. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have! Click Here