Boat safety

Be Safe Out There When Boating This Summer

Bass Boats & Boating Care
Launching and loading the boat will generally take longer during the summer, with more boaters using the water.
Launching and loading the boat will generally take longer during the summer, with more boaters using the water.

During the warmest part of the year, being on the water is the place to be. It's a great time to experience the outdoors, and people from all walks enjoy the water. However, while it can be fun on the water, the added boat traffic can make things hectic. Bass anglers tend to be much more experienced boaters than others and should take the lead in practicing proper boat safety as our boats are generally capable of being the fastest boats on the lake.

In addition to fast-moving boats, there are plenty of other dangers on the water. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the top five causes of boating accidents are:

  • Operator inattention
  • Operator inexperience
  • Improper lookout
  • Excessive speed
  • Machinery failure.

However, you can prevent nearly all of these with some common sense, caution, and extra care.

The following tips should help you be better prepared when taking the boat out for a fun-filled day of fishing this summer.

Watch Out for the Other Guy and Practice Patience

It applies to all vehicles, whether driving down the road or cruising in your boat. It's one thing to know what you are doing and operate safely, but you can't always assume the same from others. It is especially true on the water as lakes and rivers are full of all types of watercraft with varying skill levels among the operators. Add in the possibility of alcohol-impaired boat drivers, and paying attention to what everyone else is doing becomes even more critical.

Paying close attention to what everyone else is doing when driving the boat is simple, but it can pay dividends, as some other boaters may not see you, not know how to operate a boat properly, or might be impaired when driving. So watching out for the other guy is a guideline we should do anytime we're on the water.

Bass anglers are usually quick and efficient when launching and loading their boats, but the boat ramp can get crowded with inexperienced boaters. While not as vital for safety as some other things in this article, it still matters, and patience is essential on busy days at the boat ramp.

Life Jackets and No Need for Speed

Life jackets come in multiple styles and should be worn whenever the outboard engine runs.
Life jackets come in multiple styles and should be worn whenever the outboard engine runs.

It's a requirement to have enough life jackets for everyone on board and bass tournaments while the outboard is running, but many anglers don't wear them unless required. Wearing a life jacket is simple and doesn't cause many inconveniences. Deciding to wear one is a personal choice, but they are proven to save lives.

Bass boats are exciting to drive, and part of the fun is the ability to go fast. Of course, we all like it, but that doesn't mean running at wide-open throttle is always the best idea. As excessive speed is one of the leading causes of accidents, slowing down and operating at a lower speed will be better for everyone, especially during a busy summer on the lake.

Learn the Lake and Watch the Weather

Some bodies of water are more hazardous than others; if you are unfamiliar with the body of water, it’s best to learn how to run it properly. Many of today’s marine electronics are very powerful and run detailed map cards that show river channels and various hazards, but they are not always perfect. When in doubt, the best thing to do is to slow down and idle if you are unfamiliar with a section of the lake to avoid hitting something below the surface.

During the warmer months, storms can build and appear very quickly. Of course, watching the weather forecast is always a smart idea for anglers as they plan their fishing day, but watching for wind, thunderstorms, and other severe weather can also play into safety. There are countless apps for your smartphone that will track winds and show radar, so it has never been easier to watch the weather while on the water.

Safety Equipment and Alcohol

Several items must be included when taking a boat out for a day of fishing. They vary by state but generally, the requirements are to have life jackets for all on board, a fire extinguisher, visual and audio distress calls, and more. These are the basics, but a prepared boater should have additional items. Preparing for anything in case of an accident on the water is the best approach.

Summer storms can appear quickly, so it’s always good to watch the weather.
Summer storms can appear quickly, so it’s always good to watch the weather.

Some other essentials include a first aid kit, plenty of food and water in case of an unexpected breakdown, marine radio if fishing bigger bodies of water, and jumper cables or a portable jump starter in case of a battery issue. A sufficient tow rope and manual bilge pump are two more items that can save the day in case of a bilge malfunction or mechanical breakdown. The tow rope can help you save someone else’s day, or you may need it to two yourself back in, so it’s a must-have item.

There’s nothing wrong with having your favorite alcoholic beverage after a long day of fishing, but drinking while on the water can significantly affect your chances of being involved in a boating accident. The U.S. Coast Guard says that 18 percent of boating fatalities involve alcohol, a number of deaths that could have been prevented or minimized.

There's nothing better than spending a day on the lake during the summer months. It's a fun way to beat the heat, and the fishing can be some of the best of the year, but it takes a little extra effort to ensure your safety during the busiest boating times of the year. The tips and guidelines listed above will ensure you can have a fun and safe time on the water, no matter how busy the lake gets.