Recent events have once again reminded me of the most important issue with regards to boating: safety!
Safety must always be on the forefront of all events before, during and leading up to the ending of your boating.
The following proves my conclusion. After the 4th of July fireworks on Biscayne Bay in Miami, three boats collided. Four people were killed and a dozen injured. What a preventable tragedy.
Also in Florida a few days later, a couple in a 24-foot center console runabout somehow cruised into a large wave or boat wake, and both were bounced into the ocean. For the next 14 hours they treaded water until another runabout fishing the same area saw them floating in the water. Thank goodness they were rescued. Their boat was found many miles away turning circles.
Six weeks after our daughter was born, we cruised the family’s restored 38-foot antique tugboat, the Walrus, to Avalon for a few days in early October. Normally this time of year the weather is still summer like and the crowded tourist season has subsided.
Around 8 a.m. I saw a 20-foot daycruiser with four men aboard putt into the harbor. Their daycruiser boat was for lake and river use with little freeboard (distance from the water surface to the top of the hull; sides of the boat). In rough water conditions in our area these styles of boats can easily fill with water and eventually sink.
I was quite surprised when they approached the mooring next to us. This mooring had about a 15-feet radius of ocean kelp tangled around the buoy. Experience and common sense would dictate this would be a mooring to avoid.
As the approaching boat became entangled, one gentleman leaned over and started to grab the kelp to propel them to the buoy. As the surge moved the boat away from the buoy, his hand knotted with kelp, the man lost his balance and was pulled into the kelp. He did not surface.
When the Harbor Patrol showed up to dive for the victim, they asked the other three men if they could swim. They said no. When one cannot swim, and intend to lean out to pick up a buoy line, they should first don a life jacket.
In the last few weeks a swimmer drowned off Palos Verde. Newport had a lifeguard drown.
Water related boating accidents and injuries are preventable. Remember—safety first. Have a good time, second. Safe voyages!