Recreational boating is for many a lifetime avocation and a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. Boaters in New York State have an unlimited choice of waterways, none more appealing than our own Lake Ontario and the surrounding Finger Lakes.
But every boating season also brings with it all too many needless accidents, preventable drownings and alcohol-related deaths, injuries and property damage. Marine safety experts and the U.S. Coast Guard agree that nearly all such events could have been prevented by three simple rules:
The first of the above rules is a matter of getting into the habit, investing in comfortable, well-fitting PFD's and at the very least adhering to the rule for small children, non-swimmers, the aged or infirm and for everyone onboard if the weather turns unfriendly. And while you're at it, the dog you take along deserves a fighting chance as well and should have a proper-sized pet life jacket too! This is "Jackson" heading for the grass after a morning sail.
"Boating and Boozing," is unconscionable and the leading cause of on-water recreational boating accidents. New York State has a new "Zero Tolerance" law with regard to drinking while boating, with substantial penalties for offenders.
That brings us to becoming a skilled and knowledgeable skipper. We are talking about knowing your vessel inside and out, being totally familiar with on-board safety equipment, having a good working knowledge of navigation and the Rules of the Road, knowing Federal and local laws with regard to your boat and its operation, developing good boat handling skills and becoming familiar in the basics of the body of knowledge we call "seamanship." One of the ways to begin on this path is by taking a boating course.
"ABS" About Boating Safety is one of the best courses to take. It is comprehensive, up-to-date, and fun. It is also the course which, when successfully completed, earns you the New York State Boating Certificate, required for all operators of Personal Water Craft (PWC).
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