Monday, March 22, 2021

11 Things Recreational Boaters Should Know

Kootenai County leads all counties in Idaho with the most registered vessels, followed by Bonner County (Lake Pend Oreille). Spokane County leads all counties in Eastern WA with the most registered boats. And Flathead County has the most boats registered in Montana. On top of that these areas have a large non motorized boating and water enthusiast population. With many boats register and active non-motorized enthusiasts comes with more boating accidents and drownings. Not to mention the Inland Northwest is a boating paradise with its vast marine environments of small and large lakes/reservoirs and many rivers. All this combined creates a unique and daunting challenge for marine law enforcement. Sheriff Marine divisions of the Inland NW asks all marine enthusiasts to make a difference in prevent recreational marine accidents. Here are 10 things you can do to accomplish this...

1.     Accident Reporting

Federal law requires the operator or owner of a recreational vessel to file a boating accident report with the State reporting authority if the recreational vessel is involved in an accident that results in any of the following:

·     A person dies

·     A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid

·     A  person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury

·     Damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 (lower amounts in some states and territories) 

·     The boat is destroyed

2.     Boater Education (email FunToSAIL for more info)

Boating safety courses are offered for all types and ages of recreational boaters. These courses are conducted by qualified volunteer organizations, such as the The Sheriff Marine Divisions, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, and other sponsors including state boating agencies. offers sailing lessons for those interested in learning to sail small daysailors such as Hobie Cats to coastal sailing for keelboaters/multihullers.

3.     Vessel Safety Check

Both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons have certified vessel examiners who will perform a free Vessel Safety Check ("VSC") at your boat, at a time of mutual convenience.

4.     Life Jackets

Most boating-related drownings happen on nice days. The U.S. Coast Guard says, “There’s no excuse not to wear a lifejacket on the water.”

5.     Going Paddling

The has education and tips on its website.

6.     Go Sailing has education and tips via is various sailing classes for those with and without disAbilities.

7.     Float Plans

The U.S. Coast Guard says boaters should file a float plan before embarking on the water. Why? The answer is simple... there are just too many facts that need to be accurately remembered and ultimately conveyed in an emergency situation. Without a float plan, you are counting on someone else, a friend, neighbor, or family member to remember detailed information that rescue personnel needs in order to find you. Information can make a difference in the outcome.

8.     Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) can harm and even kill you inside or outside your boat. The U.S. Coast Guard urges boaters to educate themselves about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

9.     Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

BUI is just as dangerous as driving under the influence (DUI). The leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents is alcohol. Alcohol and water do not mix.

10.     Shallow Water Boat Performance

Boats designed for shallow water fishing or recreational use are most prone to shallow water accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. These boaters need to know how to handle this situation before going out on the water.

11.     Propeller Safety

Boat propellers are a hidden danger to boaters. To avoid boat propeller accidents remove keys from the ignition when stopping. Make sure your motor safety lanyard is attacked to the safety off switch and is attached to the skipper/person who is driving the boat.

CONCLUSION: Doing these 11 things will help you and others to have a safe boating experience. If you see unsafe boaters such as those under the influence of alcohol write down the boats registration number and report to the local marine enforcement (should have this contact info on your float plan and on your boat). Take immediate action if one can do it safely. Do not engage drunk or violent acting individuals/groups. Best to contact law enforcement while on the water via VHF radio safety channel. Cell phone signals are not always reliable while on the water.

Boating accident video... what not to do...


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