With a name like the Golden Isles, it’s no surprise that water plays a big role in the area’s character and appeal. The name itself conjures images of the tide oscillating from high to low and back again among marshlands and beaches.
As such, this is also a popular area for boating. Whether it is people out enjoying a fishing trip or just a day on the water, you can see plenty of vessels out and about inshore and offshore. That also puts a premium on boater safety.
You don’t have to look long to find incidents of boaters getting into dangerous situations. If you follow the Twitter feed of the Coast Guard’s Southeastern District, you will see a lot of posts about distressed boaters who had to be rescued. On Wednesday, five people were rescued off the coast of Charleston, S.C., when the 57-foot boat they were on caught fire. Thankfully with the help of the Coast Guard and a good Samaritan, everyone survived the disaster.
Unfortunately, not all boaters in distress were as lucky. Memorial Day weekend saw 15 lives lost on the waters in the region, according to the Coast Guard. Over the three-day period the Coast Guard worked 58 search and rescue cases across their stations in the Southeast.
If you plan on going on a fishing trip or spending a day on the water, following some simple rules can help you increase your odds of returning back to land in the event of a disaster. It starts before you leave the dock.
First, make sure you tell someone where you plan to be going and when you plan to return. If the worst-case scenario happens, it will help the Coast Guard and others to know where you were going so that they can “take the search out of search and rescue” as local Coast Guard Flotilla Commander Dan Hagan told The News this week.
Second, make sure you are prepared for your voyage. That means making sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board. They may be uncomfortable, but they are literal life savers as Hagan said 70 percent of deaths the Coast Guard investigates were not wearing a life jacket.
Third, no alcohol consumption while operating a boat and pay attention to what everyone is doing. Local charter captain Kevin Dezern told us it’s his top two rules for trips, and we couldn’t agree more. You shouldn’t drink and drive on land. This same rule should apply when on the water.
Boating should be a fun endeavor, but it’s only a successful trip if everyone makes it back to land. Follow the rules and stay safe this summer when out on the water.