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Boating Safety for Solo Travelers. Although I have had a lifelong love of boating, I am no expert. After two tries at sailing lessons, my skill set is limited to “manning” the winch handle. The most important thing I learned was don’t drop it over board. However, I have come to appreciate that for both experts and those of us amateurs, the real key is staying safe. In a past press account in the Washington, DC area, there was one drowning when a kayak flipped over and three others missing while out boating. Sometime after that, sadly two members of the Kennedy family were lost in a canoe in the Chesapeake Bay in late spring. In addition, another recent boating accident resulted in a death in Lake Pontchatrain in New Orleans when a canoe overturned. In springtime, hypothermia is a real added risk since the water is still very cold even when the weather has warmed up. In addition, even experienced boaters have likely had 6-9 months’ hiatus during cooler weather and may overlook certain safety features.
Here are our 6 tips to consider.
Boating Safety for Solo Travelers-6 Updated Tips: Plan Ahead:
If you are going out on the water alone, let friends/family know where you will be and your likely time returning. As solo hikers find, in a second, an accident can put even very fit, real athletes in trouble.
Pick an area where there is at least some traffic back and forth. Communing with nature can be great, but it also makes it unlikely to find help when needed.
Don’t assume your cell phone will rescue you. If you can’t get a signal, you need to have a backup. Larger boats will typically have a marine radio. Absent that, at least have flares or some means of attracting attention, especially if you get stuck after dark.
Boating Safety for Solo Travelers-6 Updated Tips: Expect the Unexpected:
Even strong swimmers can get knocked out and overboard when hit by a swift moving boom. When going below in a sailboat, always keep one hand free to hang on, especially when going “down below” to the galley.
Treat boating as seriously as when you drive a car. So save “Happy Hour” for when you will not be at the helm.
Know the rules of the road. Be sure to check out carefully both state and federal regulations. Typically, there must be a life jacket for each person in the boat, including children. In addition, boats of 16′ must have a device that can be thrown if someone has gone overboard.
For a comprehensive overview, see this online 45 page brochure.