Days are getting longer and temperatures are rising. Summer is coming and that means boating season has arrived. In addition, after more than a year of quarantine fatigue and masks coming off for the fully vaccinated, many are hitting our area waterways and that includes numerous new boaters on the water. In 2020, boat sales jumped over 12 percent in the state and this year so far is following suit.
May 21 through 27 is National Safe Boating Week. Friday the 21st is the week’s kickoff event with Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. Using the hashtags #WearItWa and #safeboatingweek, you can share your photos wearing a life jacket.
Each person aboard a boat or human driven vessel such as a paddleboard or kayak must have a properly fitted Coast Guard approved life jacket. Area waterways are cold, colder than 60 degrees. Cold water shock when falling into the water is the leading cause of drownings. In recent years, about 3 out of 4 recreational boating victims were not wearing a life jacket. Rescue crews note they do not find drowning victims wearing a life jacket. Visit www.wearitwashington.org to learn about today’s comfortable life jackets. #coldwatersafety
Did you know all boater operators and paddlers need a boater’s education card? It is important to get educated about rules of the road on the water, boating safety and more, before heading out on the water. More than 80 percent of Washington boat operators do not have a boater’s education card. Visit www.boatered.org to learn how to get one including easy on-line courses.
Communication is critical while on the water. Boaters should carry two forms of communication that will work when wet, such as a whistle, and waterproof marine radio and phone. Flares, a signal mirror and an air horn will help in case of emergency so responders can find you. Make sure all these communication tools are on board before heading out on the water.
Check the marine weather forecast before heading out on the water. Know before you go. If there are any advisories or warnings, or adverse weather, tide and current conditions, consider another day to enjoy the water. And while on the water, monitor NOAA Weather Radio to maintain situation awareness. Remember, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared.
Boat owners and operators are responsible for the safety of everyone on board. Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs including marijuana, is illegal and unsafe. Always designate a sober skipper. Washington’s Boating Under The Influence law applies to all boats including human driven vessels like canoes, rowboats and inflatables. For more information about boating sober, visit www.boatsober.org .
And regarding human driven paddle craft, be sure to label your craft with an ‘if found’ sticker. The sticker with the owner’s name and phone number will help avoid expensive search and rescue efforts for a found paddle craft with no one on board. Get a sticker on-line or contact the US Coast Guard Auxiliary at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Go enjoy that sunset cruise on your kayak, paddleboard, jet ski or boat, just remember the rules or the water.National Safe Boating Week is all about getting you ready to hit the water. With longer days and warmer weather, enjoy our area waterways. Just do so safely.