Written by Captain Rick Mendez
There are many great ways to spend days is on the water. On the water there are many recreational activities that one can choose from; such as fishing, swimming, tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, parasailing and more new ones coming on the scene every summer. Taking part in these activities and taking in the sun is great, but remember safety first. During the boating season the water has been home to many fatal accidents involving passengers partaking in these activities.
In August, 2014, a tragic accident took place in Greenwich harbor off the Long Island Sound. According to police, “four Greenwich teenage girls, all 15 or 16 years of age, were operating a 21-foot powerboat with a 200-hp engine on Long Island Sound unsupervised by adults. Two of the girls were in the boat towing the other two on an inflatable tube. The two girls in the tube fell out, police say, and after the girl operating the boat turned around to pick them up, the boat’s propeller hit the girls in the water.” One of the 16 year olds, died at the scene from her injuries and her 15 year old friend was taken to Stamford Hospital for a leg injury that “required extensive stitching.”
About a week later after the Greenwich accident, a Long Island man suspected to be under the influence of alcohol while at the helm of the boat is responsible for the loss of a thirty four year old man. The accident occurred in Baldwin Bay, the person killed was in the water when the boats engine was started, causing him to be struck by the vessels propeller. The accident took place in the late evening and the Captain of the vessel was only given a verbal confirmation that everyone was on board.
To make sure we decrease the risk of hitting obstacles, drowning or propeller strikes while individuals are partaking in recreational activities, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Make sure your engine is COMPLETELY shut off if someone’s at the stern of the boat, and if someone is entering or exiting the boat.
- Do not put your boat into reverse; always make sure you appoint someone to look at the back of the boat and if it is necessary for you to go back, go around instead.
- Make sure all children are supervised at all times and areas used as platforms for swimming should be looked after.
- Educate all your guests about safety on the water; make sure they are wearing life jackets at all times and let them know of possible dangers with propellers.
- Make sure someone at all times has their eyes on the stern and sides of the boat.
- Before leaving and starting up the engine, take a head count of guest and walk around the entire vessel to make sure all is clear, especially in the evening,
- Know your charts for objects in the water.
- Be aware of all the boating traffic and maintain proper lookout.
- Make sure you have good communication with the observer and pay attention to driving.
Propeller strikes haven’t always taken the life of individuals participating in recreational activities, sometimes different factors such as weather and ocean conditions can also be extremely hazardous. Look out for other boats and obstacles in the water such as moorings , lines and trees just below the waterline. If you notice that the weather is taking a turn for the worse or the tides are becoming increasingly dangerous, you should not decide to go wakeboarding or parasailing, etc. Always exercise common sense and don’t be a risk taker, thinking it won’t happen to you, even when its least expected. Your best chance as of now to being safe on the water is taking the boating safety course and educating your passengers as well.