Teen Boater Safety

Follow these simple tips to keep yourself safe on the water

People who live near a body of water may enjoy boating, but as enjoyable as this pastime can be, it demands care and adherence to local, state, and federal laws. Boaters must have a full understanding of safety guidelines and how to operate the watercraft. Teenagers may wish to operate boats, but they need proper training before taking the helm of a vessel.

Taking a boating safety course has a number of benefits for both teenage and adult boaters. Not only will the course teach and increase safety skills in the water, but it may even allow for insurance discounts after completion of the course. Prior to taking a sailing vacation – like a Mediterranean yacht charter – a sailing course will also accustom guests to boating and help guests earn their sea legs.

Finding a Course

The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that boaters take boating safety courses, which are designed to teach skills and safety to people who want to operate recreational boats. These courses are appropriate for boaters of all ages, including teenagers. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators has an approved boating safety course list. Choosing a course from this list will help ensure that the course is of high quality. Some boating educational companies offer information online to enable people to search for a class by state or ZIP code. Upon finding a local course, you can review the course description and secure a spot in a class if desired.

What to Expect in a Course

A boating course covers many different topics. Boaters will learn about topics including water safety, boat operation, navigation rules, boating etiquette, and water sports safety. Boating courses also vary in level, covering material suitable for novices or more advanced skills. Some beginning boat courses are even available online for convenience. If a state requires completion of a boating course, a student will receive a certificate after successfully finishing the course. The student can then submit the certificate to the state.

Preparation and Practice

While learning how to operate a boat, preparation and practice will help enhance boating skills. While teens often yearn for independence on the water, parental supervision is crucial to ensure their safety. Practice of boating skills on lakes or small canals is also beneficial, rather than allowing novices to maneuver a boat on the open ocean. For example, if you’re planning a bareboat yacht charter in New England, it would be best to first learn sailing on a lake with a coach, prior to setting out in the Penobscot Bay. A controlled setting where the water is more manageable will help a new boater learn skills without overwhelming them. Another crucial component of safe boat operation is having a safety plan. This plan outlines actions that you should take in response to specific situations. Having a safety plan that covers typical situations that could occur while boating helps boaters think ahead and be prepared for any situation. Then, if an emergency does happen, the boater won’t panic; they can simply remember their plan and follow the outlined steps. All boats should be equipped with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon and a VHF FM radio in the event of emergencies. The EPIRB will enable authorities to locate the boat in an emergency in case nobody is on the boat who is able to communicate with those on shore, and the radio enables boaters to monitor weather conditions.

Safety Tips for Teen Boating

While mastering boat operation is important, being aware of general boating safety practices is also crucial to ensure overall safety on the water. Performing a vessel safety check is advisable before launching a boat into the water. Every boat has a maximum capacity, which must be followed for safety. Before venturing out onto the water, a boater must check the weather forecast. Weather conditions can change abruptly, so it’s also important to monitor the weather while on the water. All boat occupants should wear life jackets at all times. Visibility is important, so boaters must ensure full visibility at all times while on the water. Optimally, one person should have the responsibility of being the lookout, especially when boating in congested areas. Boaters also must follow navigation rules while operating a vessel. These rules govern things like, towing, sound signals, who has the right of way, and safe speeds. These rules differ by location. For example, on yacht charters in Greece, right of way is very different from New England. That’s why it’s so important to learn about local rules, prior to leaving.

Written by Katja Kukovic

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