Pontoon Boating Safety
Safety is key in any sporting venture. This is particularly true on the water, where so many threats to safety exist. Thankfully, pontoon boating safety is easier in many ways than when you own a more power-focused craft. But you and your onboard guests still face a bounty of risks you must manage, in the water and at the dock.
Check out these top pontoon boating safety tips, below.
Take Advantage of Annual Vessel Safety Checks (VSC)
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks (VSC) at your favorite body of water, online or designated locations. These pontoon boating safety checks are free of charge and required by many boating areas. Instead of considering these checks an annoying delay to your fun Saturday on the water, take advantage of the help they offer. If you can request a review of your pontoon boat safety equipment by a live examiner, do so for extra insights and a safer boating season.
Designate an Assistant Skipper
Your pontoon boat is not the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island fame. But then again, you do not want to turn your three-hour tour of a local lake into a marooning episode. Whenever going out on the water, have a designated assistant skipper with you. This is someone you can trust to remain attentive while boating. They should also be aware of safe boating operation and how to manage common risks.
Your designated assistant skipper should know everything about your boat and how it functions. They must also provide support when you need help reaching the shore, refueling or docking. They need to understand pontoon boating safety and rules of navigation. If something happens to you, you need someone able to take over your craft and get everyone home safely.
Create a Float Plan
Before pilots board their craft, they have created and filed a flight plan. Pontoon boating safety calls for doing the same in advance of your day on the water. You should always share this plan with someone remaining onshore, such as a family member or friend. Also, file it with your local marina staff. This simple plan helps authorities find you if something goes awry.
Ensure your float plan contains information such as:
- Full name, as on your driver’s license
- Home address
- Telephone numbers of the captain and passengers
- Boat type and registration information
- Trip itinerary
- Onboard safety, signal and communications equipment inventory
Maintain Enough Life Jackets on Your Boat
You should always have enough life jackets onboard your boat for yourself and your passengers. In fact, always have several extra on hand, in multiple sizes. As the National Safe Boating Council recommends, every passenger must wear a safety jacket at all times. Although few people stick to this pontoon boating safety rule, it can mean the difference between life and death.
Keep Updated on Weather Conditions
Weather can change drastically without much warning. But this is rarer than clear signs of changing weather with predictable outcomes. Keep local weather forecasts and alerts active on your smartphone when out on the water. Check this information before embarking and throughout each day, for pontoon boating safety.
Other Important Pontoon Boating Safety Tips
Besides the five important pontoon boating safety tips above, a few more key tips for your safety include:
- Avoid alcohol use, particularly if operating the boat
- Check your navigation lights before embarking on the water
- Observe all applicable nautical rules
- Use common sense in boating
- Maintain safe speeds
- Keep a first aid kit on your boat
- Return to shore immediately if bad weather rolls in
- Dress appropriately for the weather and safety
Pontoon Boating Safety Is Still Fun Boating
There is no reason to give up on fun as a sacrifice to pontoon boating safety. In fact, you can make your boat even more fun by safely amping up its speed for more enjoyable water sports and more rapid progress from one point to the next. Talk to your Hydrofin representative today to learn how to increase your boat’s speed and fuel economy at the same time.