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Safe at Sea: Sober skipper

By PAT SCHMIDT - | Jul 27, 2021

Earlier this summer, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement released its 2020 Boating Accident Statistical Report (www.MyFWS.com). This annual boating accident/fatality summary reminds us of a gruesome — and glaring — fact: Alcohol and drug use play a major factor in boating accidents.

Those statistics are the impetus behind Sea Tow Foundation’s Sober Skipper program. The program’s goal is to reshape boaters’ thinking (and doing) in terms of alcohol use while on the water. Granted, everyone wants to have a fun-filled day, whether cruising, fishing, skiing, et cetera. However, as the skipper of the boat, making sound safe decisions about everyone’s safety must come first.

The wind, sun and vibration of boating, when coupled with the use of alcohol, can easily lead to an “impaired” skipper, one whose loss of balance, coordination and concentration are impacted.

The critical part of the Sober Skipper program is the Sober Skipper Pledge. Sea Tow is actually requesting that everyone not only read the pledge, but also sign up that they have done so. You, too, can do this by going to Sea Tow’s website at https://www.boatingsafety.com/.

On the website, Sea Tow sets as its goal the elimination of BUI, or Boating Under the Influence, by skippers not drinking or by designating a sober skipper before every boating trip.

The pledge is as follows:

As the skipper, I agree to:

– Not operate any boat, no matter the size, if my plans include drinking alcohol.

– Be responsible for my boat and all of my passengers.

– Be or designate a sober skipper for every boating trip.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in boating accidents every year. The tragedy of this all is that it is preventable.

Choose to be a sober skipper! Put the safety of your family and friends and everyone on board first.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.