Boating Tips to Make your Outing Enjoyable

Spring is here and it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming boating season. We’ve checked off some essentials on safety. Just follow these few simple precautions with care—and delight in your time spent on the boat with family and friends.

1. Pay Attention and Be Aware.

The simplest safety tip can also be the hardest to follow. The average boater should realize that that main culprit behind boating accidents is—Inattention. Stay mindful of other boaters, skiers, inner tubers, and anyone else in the water by keeping a safe distance. Follow the directions posted on signs and observe the boating rules established by the local authorities or property owners. Keep your wake low when near other boats, swimmers, or the shore.

2. Have Life Jackets for Everyone Aboard

Life jackets save lives; it’s that simple. They should be Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition and fit the intended user. Modern life jackets are also thin, flexible and compact. It’s always a good idea to wear one, so have them on deck and ready. AND, if you’re under the age of 12—you must wear a life jacket at all times.

3. Take a Boating Safety Class

Knowing the basic and fundamentals of boating is key. Courses consist of a minimum eight hours of instruction, covering the basics of boating safety, requirements, navigation, registration and titling, emergency measures and the Illinois boating laws. You have many options, including Coast Guard Auxillary, Power Squadrons, and Fox Waterways. They offer a variety of courses for novice and experienced boaters, and also perform Vessel Safety Checks.

4. Perform a Pre-Board Safety Check

Having a list ready makes for an easy and efficient way to not miss anything. Here are some safety musts:

  • Check your fuel and oil.
  • Run an Electronic Check and make sure all devices are good to go.
  • Run the blower for at least one minute before starting the engine.
  • Have a fire extinguisher, flares and first aid kit on deck.
  • Don’t forget your registration.

Survey the weather before setting sail—as well as your destination forecast. ALWAYS bring a radio and keep your eyes open once you’re on the Lakes. If you notice dark skies, sudden winds and the beginning of the Perfect Storm—get off the water, and fast.

If you prepare for the unexpected, follow these safety tips; you’re ahead of the game. Just remember to inform all guests of best-safety practices, limit alcohol consumption, keep your cool in any situation— and it’ll be smooth sailing.

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