homepage logo

Safe at Sea: Steps to remain safe, afloat and headed toward destination

By Staff | Jul 23, 2019

“Hey! Let’s be safe out there!”

– Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Hill Street Blues”

Over the course of the past few weeks of columns, “The Rules of the Road” have been highlighted, specifically “The General Rule of Responsibility.” It states that a boat captain’s responsibility is to take whatever action necessary to prevent a collision, even if it is in “violation” of the Rules of the Road.

Then, last week’s column covered “What to do when you run aground.”

This week, Safe at Sea presents a series of broad steps to remain not only safe, but also afloat and heading toward your destination.

– Consider joining the America’s Boating Club

This one simple step will offer you nautical courses, from the novice to the veteran boater, particularly those new to the area. In addition, there are a wealth of benefits members receive, ranging from discounts on boater’s insurance and towing insurance to vacation travels (on the water and on the land).

For more information on memberships, visit www.sancapboating.club.

– Study and carry Chart 25 E.

This chart covers the surrounding waters of Sanibel and Captiva and will inform you of the intricate coastal waterways, to include channel depths, canal entries, et cetera.

– It is shallow out there!

– Follow markers whenever possible.

– Know the tide stage.

– Study chart before entering unknown waters.

– Create a GPS route to navigate unknown waters.

– Leave a GPS track.

– Learn to read the water:

– Color changes and surface changes: Caution

– Flats are large expanses of shallow water: Do not cross

– Bars are generally tan color: Stay clear

– Grass humps appear darker than surrounding water: Beware

– An area of unusually fast water may indicate under-water obstruction: Proceed slowly

It is easier to read water on sunny days. Use caution on cloudy days.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and the courses it offers, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 239-985-9472.