The sun is glistening on the seas and Palm Beachers are celebrating their passion for boating and all things related to being out on the water. It’s fun and relaxing but comes with a certain amount of responsibility and safety considerations as well. Keith Enright, our Palm Beach Marina Assistant Dockmaster, joined the leadership team with an extensive law enforcement and marine background. He began with service in the U.S. Coast Guard as a Boatswain’s Mate at theSearch and Rescue Station, and has been a Master on a passenger ferry.
Whether you’re a captain, owner, or crew member, Keith shares his practices regarding safe boating with you:
ALL boat operators should be required to take a safe boating course to give them the basics of boating.
Alcohol plays a large role in boating accidents and fatalities. Many drownings have occurred when an intoxicated person jumps into the water and gets caught off guard by the cold. They gasp and swallow water, which essentially causes them to drown.
Boaters should have the adequate tools and marine equipment: GPS, radar, compass, paper charts, life vests, fire extinguisher, signaling devices, and a first-aid kit.
Know the depth of your yacht below the waterline. It was surprising to learn how many boaters are unaware of shallow waters and submerged objects. There are many that see water and feel it is unobstructed and deep enough. Submerged objects and shallow waters can be found just outside marked channels, so be mindful of the buoys.
A boater should be prepared to navigate without electronics if there is a power failure.
Operating at night poses a whole new experience. Depth perception is affected and background lights, in inland waters, can be very confusing.
A boat operator must be familiar with the various configurations of navigational lights as well as navigational aids in order to differentiate between objects on the water and on land.
Be sure to check the weather and underwater currents before and during travel. The weather can change at any moment. Many boat operators/captains often approach docks and inlets without knowledge of tides, currents, and winds. This can create a disaster.
Boaters should always let others know their route and estimated times of arrival to destinations. If they have not checked in, this allows for a search to be conducted in a relatively known area.
Boaters should arrange and talk to the Dockmaster ahead of arrival. A dock master’s job is very important in overseeing various operations and keeping the marina running efficiently. They are responsible for the daily operations, maintaining the dock and managing both the crew and yacht owners.
Every boat includes a designated maximum capacity rating. Be sure to know this requirement and to follow recommendations to prevent overloading and potentially capsizing your boat. Consider not only the weight of passengers but also gear, coolers, water toys, and other carry-ons.
Passengers should be familiar with basic navigation and boat handling in case the operator becomes incapacitated. Just the other day, a woman was screaming on the radio that her boyfriend had fallen overboard, and she had no idea where she was or how to communicate her position of the boat.
Boats are complex machines and need regular maintenance to stay running smoothly and safely.
Swimming from your boat can be great, but there’s a time and place for it. Never, swim in a marina, or in a marked channel, even if there are no boats around. You never know when a boat with limited maneuvering abilities will come along. Always be mindful of the propellers!
Whether your goal is chasing the big fish offshore, having a fun a party day, or just cruising the waterways, addressing a few key safety precautions before you set sail will leave you prepared for anything.