There’s nothing better than capping off your summer with a good old-fashioned boating weekend this Labor Day. As you head out for a day of fun, family and friendship this holiday weekend, there are a few things to keep in mind. The combination of beautiful late-summer weather, a major national holiday and countless Americans off from work and you get one of the busiest boating weekends of the year. Be sure to follow these tips in order to keep things safe and fun this holiday weekend:
Navigating Busy Waterways
Because many waterways will be more crowded than normal this Labor Day, it’s important to consider the time of day to launch and cruise.
“Be alert and make sure you’re using your best defensive boating techniques,” said Captain Ramsey Chason, owner and head captain of Sea Tow Cape and Islands. “Be sure to watch your wake and leave plenty of room for other boats. More space means more time to react.”
In addition, Capt. Ramsey added that it’s important to adjust your boating for changing conditions.
“If the water is rough or visibility is poor, slow down,” he said. “And if you plan on being out at night, make sure you have working navigation lights before you head out for the day.”
Dropping Anchor in Crowded Areas
Watching fireworks from the deck of your boat is the best! But be aware that extra traffic and inexperienced boaters will also be out for the fireworks show. It’s important to know the right way to anchor up to ensure your boat and crew enjoy the show safely.
While it’s important to keep in mind simple things like getting to your preferred anchoring point early to ensure you get a good spot, dropping anchor in a crowded area can be trickier than one might think.
“Coves and other locations fill up quickly on busy boating days, so utilizing the correct anchoring technique can be crucial,” said Captain Jared Stubbs of Sea Tow San Diego. “Leave enough space so that your boat has some room to move around and make sure you let out enough line for the anchor to hold securely. Remember that an anchor line in a prop can lead to a locked-up motor and an inoperable boat, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.”
Rafting Up with Friends and Family
Rafting up with other boats is FUN! You can relax with friends, swim and share food and beverages all tied up in a floating neighborhood.
It may seem like something as simple as tying a few boats together, but rafting up is easier said than done, Sea Tow Tampa owner Cile Moreno says.
“It’s important to have a plan before you start tying boats together,” she said. “The largest and heaviest boat should drop anchor first and do so before the others begin to tie up. From there, make sure you approach slowly and use plenty of fenders so that none of the boats get damaged. If you’re having trouble, approach at a 45-degree angle, toss out your bowline and allow your boat to settle in beside the host boat.”
“In addition, remember to make sure you’re in a safe spot – away from the main channel,” Cile said.
“Get there early and find a good spot to ensure you have plenty of room to drop anchor,” she added, “and make sure to always have a Designated Sober Skipper on board to get you home safely afterward. From there, it’s as simple as keeping an eye on your surroundings and having fun.”