4 Boating Tips for July Fourth

Likely the Longest Anchoring Day of the Year

July 2024 News, Feature BoatUS Web Exclusive

According to the nationwide TowBoatUS on-water towing fleet, the busiest time of the year for America’s recreational boat owners is, hands down, the Fourth of July holiday period, which typically includes some days before and after the official holiday. It also may be the longest time many boaters will spend the day on the water at anchor, enjoying fireworks shows, fishing holes and raft-ups. Are they ready?

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has four tips to help boaters spend America’s birthday safely at anchor.

1. Be anchor smart. Before heading out, is your anchoring gear is up to snuff? Bitter end secured? You may not have used it yet this boating season, so be sure all is good to go for whatever anchoring arrangement – a picnic hook, extra fenders for a raft-up, or shoreside tie-up requiring a second line. When arriving to your celebration spot and setting anchor, ensure you let out enough scope for the depth and predicted weather conditions. Show some courtesy if things get crowded. On the other hand, don’t be that guy who runs into an anchorage throwing a wake or who is completely oblivious to those around him.

2. Avoid CO poisoning. Generators give boaters the creature comforts they want. However, don’t run the generator if you’ve got swimmers in the water at the back of the boat – a common place for guests to congregate on floats and pool toys. This is where exhaust ports often located, spewing dangerous, odorless carbon monoxide.

3. Don’t stress it. It’s a long day on the water. Be careful with stressors including noise, vibration, sun, wind, waves and other motion. U.S. Coast Guard research shows that four hours of exposure to these can produce a kind of fatigue, or "boater's hypnosis," which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally drunk. Adding alcohol makes it worse.

For your boat, don’t stress your battery by playing music all day. TowBoatUS reports calls to its 24-hour dispatch for battery jump services surge – as if on cue – just after the firework shows end when boaters want to head home.

4. Get home safely. Before departing an anchorage, wait to turn on the engine until everyone is back aboard and ladder is up. If you’re leaving a fireworks show, proceed with utmost caution. It’s always better to wait a few minutes for everyone to clear out and give a chance for wakes to subside before departing. Be patient and, again, give as much courtesy as you can. Everyone aboard should be acting as a lookout. Never take a shortcut home after dark.

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