SOUTHOLD, N.Y. – Sea Tow – a leading on-water service provider with more than 100 locations nationwide – wants to ensure that boaters everywhere make the most out of their Independence Day in 2018. Because July 4th festivities are often accompanied by busy waterways, crowded marinas and beautiful fireworks displays, some of the company’s most experienced captains have shared a few tips to help boaters navigate the holiday weekend safely.
Navigating Busy Waterways
Combine beautiful July weather, a major national holiday and countless Americans off work and all that adds up to one of the busiest boating days of the year. Because many waterways will be much more crowded than normal, it’s important to take that into consideration when you launch your boat this holiday weekend.
“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. Chason 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 for the local fireworks display, make sure you have working navigation lights before you head out for the day.”
Anchoring for Fireworks
There’s nothing quite like watching fireworks from the deck of your beloved boat; but with waterways quickly filling up for the local fireworks show, it’s important to know the right way to anchor up to ensure your boat and its crew come out scot-free.
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 around fireworks displays fill up quickly, 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.”
Capt. Stubbs added that it’s important to be patient once the fireworks show comes to a close.
“Once the show is over and everyone starts to leave, things can get hectic quickly,” he added. “Make sure you’re using your white anchor light while anchored and immediately switch to your navigational lights as soon as your anchor comes up. Once you get moving, take it slow and watch your wake until you’re back on open waters.”
Rafting Up with Friends and Family
One of the best parts about summer boating is bonding with friends and family through a shared love of boating. What better way to take advantage of that then by rafting up to enjoy the holiday together.
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 boat should drop anchor 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.”
In addition, remember to make sure you’re in a safe spot away from the main channel and down-wind from the fireworks show, Moreno said.
“Get there early and find a good spot to ensure you’re set up for the big show,” 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.”