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How To Decide If It Is Safe To Go Boating

November 30, 2022 Boating Accident Injury & Death

From bad weather conditions to other boaters on the water, there are several factors that can turn a day of boating into a dangerous—and possibly even life-threatening—ordeal. Before leaving shore, it is important to consider all of these factors and make a smart decision about whether it is a good day to be on the water. In this article, Miami boating accident lawyer Keith Brais covers 12 factors you can consider to decide if it is safe to go boating.

12 Factors to Decide If It Is Safe To Go Boating

Is today a good day to go boating? Here are 12 questions you can ask (and answer) to make an informed decision:

1. How Is the Weather Currently?

It is always a good idea to check the weather before boating, and ideally before you leave home so that you don’t feel tempted to make a bad decision once you get to the boat landing or marina. If the weather conditions are unfavorable, this can have a domino effect on the water—and a dangerous situation can quickly go from bad to worse.

2. How Will the Weather Change Throughout the Day?

In addition to checking the current weather conditions, you should also check to see if the weather conditions are going to change throughout the day. While it might be sunny with clear skies in the morning, a storm could be lurking just over the horizon. When you return to the boat landing or marina at the end of the day, you do not want to find that the winds are so strong you can’t dock your boat safely.

3. How Are the Current Water Conditions?

Along with checking the weather conditions, you should check the water conditions as well. Even if the local weather is good, offshore winds could have produced a swell that will make for an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous day out. If the National Weather Service has issued a Small Craft Advisory, this means that the water conditions can be dangerous for boats up to 65 feet in length.

4. How Will the Water Conditions Change Throughout the Day?

Just as you should check the weather conditions throughout the day, you should check the water conditions throughout the day as well. On the coastal waters around Miami, water conditions can change drastically in just a few hours.

5. Is Your Boat In Good Shape?

Is your boat ready for a day on the water? Are your engine (or engines) and bilge pump working properly? When was the last time you had your boat serviced? Even if you have boat towing insurance or a membership with BoatUS or Sea Tow, you don’t want to find yourself on the water with an inoperable vessel.

6. Do You Have All the Necessary Safety Equipment?

All boaters should make sure they have all necessary safety equipment each time they go out on the water. If you have lost a personal floatation device (PFD) or your VHF radio has stopped working, this is an issue that you should address before potentially putting yourself—or your passengers—in a dangerous situation.

7. How Are the Weather and Water Conditions At Your Destination?

When checking the weather and water conditions, it is important to focus not only on your launch point but on your destination as well. If you will be going out into the Atlantic Ocean, for example, you should check the offshore charts and forecast in addition to checking the local readings.

8. Do You Have Someone To Go With You?

While boating solo can be safe, it is generally best to go with someone else whenever possible. Having a second set of hands to help manage your lines or call for help in the event of an emergency can greatly reduce the risks of encountering unexpected conditions while boating.

9. Are There Any Reports of Hazards in the Water?

Occasionally, there will be reports of hazards in the water. This is particularly common after hurricanes and tropical storms in South Florida, though capsized vessels, spills, and other issues can present hazards at any time. The risk of encountering a hazard doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to stay home, but it does mean that you will need to exercise caution, be vigilant and plan an alternate route if necessary.

10. Is It a Holiday or Three-Day Weekend?

On holidays and three-day weekends, Miami’s waterways can get extremely busy with recreational vessels. There is a heightened risk of encountering boaters who are under the influence during these times as well. Even with relatively small recreational boats, a large number of boats can churn up a dangerous chop; and if you decide to go out, you will need to be on the lookout for boaters who are making bad decisions at the helm.  

11. Is Boat Traffic Likely To Be Heavy for Other Reasons?

Even if it isn’t a holiday or three-day weekend, boat traffic could be heavy for other reasons. Boat parades, regattas and other organized events are common in and around Miami, and while these events can be fun, they can also be dangerous. Distractions, recklessness, inexperience and intoxication are all potential boating accident risks, and these risks could outweigh the benefits of navigating congested waters.

12. Are You Confident In Your Ability To Return Home Safely?

Taking all of these considerations into account, are you confident in your ability to return home safely? Ultimately, this is the most important question of all. If you feel comfortable taking your boat out, then by all means do so. But, if your better judgment is telling you to stay home, then it is best to reschedule your outing for another day.

Speak with a Miami Boating Accident Lawyer in Confidence

Unfortunately, even if you make an informed decision about going boating, you cannot protect yourself entirely. If you get injured in an accident on the water, you should speak with a Miami boating accident lawyer about your legal rights. For a free and confidential consultation with a lawyer at Brais Law Firm, call 800-499-0551 or tell us how we can reach you online today.