What could be more peaceful and relaxing than taking a boat out on the water for a lazy afternoon? Whether you’re cruising in a yacht or drifting in a rowboat, however, your ultimate goal is a safe trip. Keep these guidelines in mind for smooth sailing and a happy return to dry land:
- Plan your cruise. Even if you’re just going to drop anchor in the middle of the lake for a snooze, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to come back. If something goes wrong, every minute could count.
- Wear your life jacket. No matter how good a swimmer you or your companions may be, a personal floatation device (PFD) like a life jacket is essential for everyone’s safety on the water.
- Watch the weather. Storms can sweep across the lake in a matter of minutes, no matter how clear the sky looks when you cast off. Check the weather forecast so that bad weather doesn’t catch you by surprise.
- Check your equipment. Examine your lights, anchor, fire extinguisher, engine, and other equipment to be sure everything is in good working order.
- Don’t drink and sail. Just like drinking and driving, alcohol and boating aren’t a safe combination. The open sea can be unpredictable enough when your judgment is unimpaired, so don’t take any chances.
- Watch your speed. There may be no posted speed limits on the water, but that doesn’t mean you can push your engines as far as they’ll go. Remember that you can’t hit the brake in a boat, and be sure to keep a safe speed to avoid danger.