It is that time of year to start thinking about decorating your boat for a holiday boat parade. As we celebrate these seasonal events, it is important to keep boating safety in the forefront of your mind. The Sea Tow Foundation offers the following tips for boaters heading out to watch a parade, to ensure everyone on board will have a safe and enjoyable time and stay off the naughty list.
- Choose a Designated Skipper to stay sober all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the parade is over. To take the Designated Skipper pledge, please visit http://www.designatedskipper.com
- Be cautious with holiday decorations. It is important that decorations do not obstruct the skipper’s blind spots. Also, power cords that are not wrapped with electrical tape can get wet and be a hazard to everyone on the boat.
- Don’t forget life jackets! Make sure everyone onboard the boat is wearing warm clothes topped by either a traditional or an inflatable life jacket that fits. Navigating at night in a crowd of other vessels can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or in fog.
- Things look different at night. Remember that in the dark, visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may be invisible. Chart your route to the on-water parade-viewing zone in advance, and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find your way, if necessary.
- Drop anchor. Don't be in a rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the parade is over.
- Listen Up! Obey U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary designated zones and follow their orders – they are only out on the water to protect you. In case of a non-emergency, hail “Sea Tow, Sea Tow, Sea Tow” on VHF channel 16; call our 24/7 National Dispatch Center at 800-4-SEATOW; or use the Sea Tow mobile app.