Boating can be a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of responsibility. Even if you stay close to shore, there are host of perils and pitfalls that every boater needs to be aware of. Without proper knowledge, you could run aground and damage your new boat. You’ll also do irreparable harm to very delicate marine ecosystems. To help you and the marine environment remain safe, we’ve collected these boating tips. Whether you’re new to boating or could use a refresher, this advice should help you stay safe on the water.
How to Avoid Running Aground
Even beginning boaters know what running aground means. It’s one of the more common accidents that can happen to a boater, and it’s something you want to avoid. Not only can it do extensive damage to your boat, it also harms the marine environment. Consider this: All it takes is one wrong turn to completely destroy a thriving coral reef or seagrass bed. These sensitive marine environments are home to a variety of important marine life. Because of this, no boater should ever want to destroy these beautiful creations from nature.
There are a few easy things you can do to avoid running aground. These include wearing polarized sunglasses, always knowing your location relative to your navigation chart, and paying attention to your depth finder. Another very important thing boaters like you can do is pay attention to and understand various changes in water colors. Here is a list of different water colors and what they mean as far as basic boating tips are concerned:
- Coral reefs grow close to the water’s surface and often make it appear to look brown. Steer wide around sections of brown water.
- When you see the color white in the water, it usually means a sandbar in that area. Because of the sandbar, these areas will be more shallow than they appear. Navigate with caution.
- Green water could indicate a seagrass bed. While shallow draft boats might be generally safe in these areas, larger boats should go around. In areas of green water, consult the appropriate NOAA marine chart.
- Typically, stretches of blue water are usually deep and free from the variety of things that could cause a boat to run aground. This doesn’t guarantee you’re in the clear, though. Follow the general tips listed above.
Sometimes you don’t have to check water color to locate these problem areas. Many areas use mooring buoys to warn boaters about coral reefs and other hazards. You might also see reef light towers, which are prominent metal A-frame structures with numbers posted on them. These shoal markers usually feature solitary steel I-beams and warning signage. Striking these structures could do major damage to your boat, so it’s best to give them space.
What if My Boat Runs Aground?
So, you’ve followed all the above tips but still managed to ground your boat. This has happened to even the most experienced boaters, so don’t beat yourself up. It’s also good keep yourself from going into a panic. If you’re in that state of mind, you might not make the best decisions. For example, you might be tempted to use your engine to power off the reef or grass flat. That could cause more damage to your boat and even harm the coral reef or seagrass bed you’re grounded on. Instead of trying to power out, or completely freaking out, follow these important boating tips:
- Turn off your engine.
- Raise your lower unit or outdrive if possible. This might allow your vessel to drift free.
- If you’re unable to drift free, radio for assistance on VHF channel 16.
Remember that it’s better to wait for help than to try to force your way out and do more damage to your boat and a sensitive marine ecosystem.
More Boating Tips…
While running aground is something you have to watch out for, it’s not the only danger on the water. There are other things that could put your boat, yourself, and your guests at risk. Signal Connect talked with a variety of boat owners to bring you these seven basic boating tips. This advice is helpful for anyone who likes to take their boat out on the water:
- To safely anchor your boat, let out at least three times as much line as it takes to have the anchor reach the bottom. Always anchor from the bow.
- When loading a small open boat, make sure you do not exceed the recommended limits listed on the capacity plate.
- Master proper stopping methods, which include putting the your craft’s throttle or gearshift in reverse thrust.
- When docking your boat, try to approach it into the wind or current. Also, have fenders and mooring lines ready before your approach. Never use your hands or feet to fend the boat off the dock. Secure the craft at both the bow and stern.
- A red flag with a white, diagonal stripe warns of diving activity.
- Never let your passengers or crew sit on the bow of the boat while it is moving because this can be extremely dangerous.
- If you come upon a large wake from another boat, remember to slow down, point the nose into the wake, and tell passengers to hold on.
- None of these tips should be used as a substitute for any approved boating safety courses in your area. Be sure to enroll in one of these programs to learn all the necessary skills to safely and responsibly operate your boat.
DIRECTV for Yachts and Other Luxury Craft
The boating tips we shared above are designed to help you when you’re cruising through the water. Signal Connect also has something to make your down time more enjoyable. It’s a DIRECTV installation for your luxury craft. You, your guests, and crew will enjoy this satellite TV service’s programming. Signal Connect is an AT&T Authorized Dealer that specializes in marine DIRECTV installations. Our reps walk you through every step of the process until you’re able to enjoy your favorite shows. Getting satellite TV for your boat is a big decision, and our reps are happy to answer any questions you might have. Just give us a call at 888-233-7563.