SOME OF THE WORST BOATING MISTAKES TO AVOID
To err is human, as they say. However, mistakes magnified when you’re on a boat. What could’ve been simple mistakes on land can have serious consequences when you’re on the water. This means boaters have to be more careful to prevent such accidents from happening.
I love boating and many lessons I have learnt the hard way in many cases, and that is the driving force behind my desire to highlight some of what I see all too often.
Read on to discover seven of the worst boating mistakes that are more common than you may think.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH LARGE COMMERCIAL SHIPS
Going near large cargo ships is a recipe for disaster. You’re putting yourself and your boat in danger by doing so. Why? Commercial vessels don’t have the ability to make sudden movements due to their sheer size. If you’re on a collision course with such a ship, it won’t be able to change course. The captain may not even see you in the first place. Because of the size difference, a collision will be catastrophic for you and your boat.
Another thing to consider is that large cargo ships travel faster than you think. If you come too close, your boat may be dragged by the strong underwater current and waves caused by their speed and size. When you’re in commercial waters, it’s best to steer clear of these large vessels. Always keep a constant lookout and stay well out of the way.
LEAVING THE CABIN HATCHES OPEN
A sinking boat isn’t always because of a collision with rocks or other boats. Cabin hatches should be closed when not in use. Weather can change quickly. Storms can come out of nowhere. Open catches could catch you out if you are suddenly caught in a thunderstorm and/or rough seas. If your boat has hatches, make sure the latches are in good working order before departure and close the hatches when and where possible.
FORGETTING TO PUT IN THE DRAIN PLUG
Forgetfulness can also lead to a sinking boat. Checking the boat’s drain plug is in place should be on your pre-departure checklist. I often see boaters getting into trouble at boat ramps because they forgot to check the boat’s plug and their boat is suddenly filling up with water. You will be surprised how fast that water rushes in.
RUNNING OUT OF FUEL
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to your boat running out of fuel such as going too fast, a faulty fuel tank and getting lost. Making sure you have more than enough fuel before departure is another point that should be on a pre-departure checklist. On more occasions than I prefer to remember, I have helped out a stranded boater with a few litres of fuel. An electric trolling motor is always good to have as a secondary propulsion system, not just for trolling, but for emergency situations.
THROWING YOUR ANCHOR
Don’t throw your anchor. Flying anchors are dangerous. The proper way to drop an anchor is to simply lower it over the side of the boat.
OVERLOADING THE BOAT
Boating trips are much more enjoyable with the company of friends and family. Know your boat’s maximum load capacity and don’t go over this limit for any reason whatsoever.
BOATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Drinking alcohol is another activity that you think will make your boating trip more fun. However, your ability to operate the boat will be severely compromised if you’re intoxicated. Just as with driving, there are laws related to drinking and operating recreational watercraft. Make sure you are aware of the laws that apply to you.
Everybody makes mistakes — even veteran boaters. Whether it’s because of unexpected weather or water conditions or because of carelessness and inattentiveness, these mistakes can have serious consequences.
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