Some call them “Ah-Ha” moments. They are typically surprises that can be good or bad, depending upon circumstance. I recently had one of those moments after reading the U.S. Coast Guard statistics for boating accidents last year. They are grouped into categories that detail the top 30 causes of boating accidents. This was a bad, very bad Ah-Ha moment for me.
Vessel Operation accounted for 2,600 accidents and almost 1,910 injuries. Within that category the number one cause of death was alcohol use. Eighty-seven died as a result of 282 accidents, while 264 sustained injuries. ‘Operator Inexperience” was the next highest cause of deaths – 63 — within that category, followed by “inattention” that led to the death of 45.
Some 27 people died due to “overloading”, 17 because of improper loading and 14 because they were on the gunwale, bow or transom.
In the report’s “Environment” category 80 deaths were the result of hazardous waters and 41 died because of the weather.
There were 121 deaths that occurred for ”unknown” reasons.
Collectively, there were 4,463 accidents that took place in 2017, causing 2,903 injuries and 701 deaths.
If you’re new to boating or an “old salt”, boating safety is by no means something to take for granted whether it’s you or another sailor on the open water. Sure, you know what to and not to do, but it doesn’t hurt to review your procedures and practices.
There are many courses available to learn and to review safe boating. If you’re not sure where to go to learn, start by visiting www.uscgboating.org and once you’ve arrived on the site’s landing page, go to “safety”.
Please don’t shrug this off. Your life, the life of those on board with you and the lives of those sharing the seas with you depend on it.
I typically leave “preaching” to others, but in this case, too many lives have been lost and too many others are at stake. Do what you need to do to help assure you won’t become or be responsible for any of the statistics in the Coast Guard’s next report.
Thanks, and remember we’re all in this together.
Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing & Cruising School, a liveaboard yacht school. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 239/257-2788.
The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.
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