6 Boat Safety Tips for Yacht Captains and Owners

Yacht safety is important, especially when you’re out on the water with guests.  You want to show them a good time, but you don’t want this to lead to bad decisions.  One way to stay safe is to be mindful of tugboats and towboats.  Since the crews of these crafts work 24-hour shifts for 365 days a year, these boats are always on the water.  Are you a yacht captain or yacht owner who regularly spends time in popular waterways?  If so, these six tips will help keep you, your crew, and your guests safe when there are tugboats and towboats nearby.

  1. Stopping a Tugboat: Working vessels look slow but these craft move faster most people realize. The average speed is a seven-minute mile.  This means it can take almost two miles for a tugboat to come to a complete stop.  Let’s say you or a guest is water skiing or using a Jet Ski near a tugboat.  If your guest falls into the water, they might not have enough time to swim out of the tugboat’s path.  The results could very well be fatal.  Train your crew to stay well away from tugboats when entertaining guests.  You should do the same!
  2. Tugboats Have Blind Spots: This is a good reason to not put your boat or personal watercraft near tugboats and other towing craft. When pushing a barge, the blind spot in front of these working boats can be a hundred feet or more.  Not only can these vessels not stop in time, there’s a good chance the pilot won’t see you if you’re right in from of his barge!  This is a recipe for disaster.  Keep your luxury vessel, personal watercraft, and guests away from towboats and tugboats.
  3. Beware of Underwater Currents: Towboats have strong engines that create powerful turbulence in their wake. This is why you should never have your vessel or personal watercraft near these working boats. If you pass too closely, or cross behind through its wake, the current can pull your craft toward the other boat or worse.  The effects of the tugboat’s wake can be intensified in narrow channels, which makes this even more dangerous.  Chalk this up as yet another reason not to be near these craft.
  4. Do Not Tie to Buoys: It’s tempting to tie up to a buoy for fishing or other recreation, but you should never do this! First of all, it’s illegal.  (The Coast Guard uses buoys to mark channels for shipping.)  Secondly, it’s dangerous.  Luxury craft tied off to buoys have been rammed into and even sunk by commercial vessels.  The problem is that tugboats, like most large commercial craft, can only travel in the deepest parts of the channel.  And as stated above, they can’t stop or slow down enough to allow yacht owners to untie their vessel from the buoy.The results are often disastrous for luxury boat owners.
  5. Beware of the Towline:If you see a tugboat with another ship trailing it, chances are good that it’s towing that boat. You just can’t see the towline because it’s underwater. This makes one more reason why you shouldn’t sail your boat or pilot personal watercraft between these two vessels.  You’re craft will get tangled up in the towline and it will also likely get slammed by the vessel being towed.  If you’re on a small boat or a Jet Ski, you could also get sucked underneath the waves by the tugboat’s undertow.  Either way, it will be disastrous.
  6. Use VHF Channels 13 and 16: Tugboats and other working vessels typically tune to channels 13 and 16 on your marine radio. This is good to know when you’re sharing the waterway with these boats. For example, you might be concerned that your craft is too close or in the way.  If you have this or any other questions, try to reach out to the towboat captions on these radio channels.  These captains are likely to be helpful in giving you the information that you need to stay safe on the water.  You can use these channels for help in emergency situations, as well.

Bonus Tip – Marine Equipment:

As you can see, there can be a lot of dangers on the water.  This is particularly true when yacht owners and captains don’t know understand the dangers that tugboats pose.  This is why your boat needs a reliable marine radio and marine antenna.  A marine cellular signal booster would also help make sure your cell phone had optimal reception. You can get the cell booster you need, and all the service and guidance you want, by calling us. The number is at the bottom of this article.

When you need the best marine gear, turn to Solid Signal, a division of Signal Connect.  The company is an online electronics retailer that offers top-selling marine equipment.  A member of Signal Connect’s team will ask you the size of your boat and other questions.  Your answers will help them recommend the best marine radio, antenna, and other marine equipment.  If you need marine gear or have questions, call us at 888-233-7563

About Signal Connect…

As an AT&T Preferred Dealer, Signal Connect specializes in delivering DIRECTV for marine solutions.  We’ve helped owners of luxury vessels and working craft enjoy satellite TV while they’re sailing close to shore or docked at the marina.  Signal Connect has also delivered DIRECTV to oil rigs.  Would you like your favorite news, sports, and entertainment on your boat or oil rig?  Just give us a call at 888-233-7563. Our marine satellite TV experts will answer your questions and help you make an informed decision about marine DIRECTV.

About the Author

Jake Buckler
Jake Buckler is a cord-cutter, consumer electronics geek, and Celtic folk music fan. Those qualities, and his writing experience, helped him land a copywriting gig at Signal Group, LLC. He also contributes to The Solid Signal Blog.