Memorial Day is approaching which is coined the unofficial kick off of summer. If tradition continues, our waters will be crowded as boaters enjoy the scenery and local sandbars. While most celebrate responsibly, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
While drinking on the water is legal, it is dangerous for the operator of a vessel to consume alcohol and just like driving on the roadways, the legal limit is .08. Alcohol is the top contributing factor in recreational boating deaths. If you want to enjoy alcoholic beverages, designate a sober operator.
There must be a life jacket for every person onboard the vessel while boating. Children under six years of age must wear a USCG–approved life jacket at all times while on any vessel less than 26 feet in length.
High visibility of law enforcement on the water along with proactive enforcement helps to promote boating safety, as well as discouraging careless boating, boating under the influence (BUI), and disturbances at the congregation areas such as the Boca Grande sandbar.
Other useful tips include:
- Check the weather before and during your trip.
- Create a float plan and share it with family and friends in case of an emergency. A float plan includes information about what ramp you’ll be using and what time you plan to return.
- Pay attention to surroundings while boating.
Members of the Charlotte County Marine Patrol unit will be out in full force paroling the local waterways looking for BUI’s, and other careless boating operations.
Report intoxicated boaters to law enforcement.
FWC: 813-558-5050 x7
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