Safe Boating

My kids are getting to the age where they are ready to learn how to skipper our boats. I’ve pulled out my Chapman’s Piloting guide to cover some rules of the road, as a family we’ll all take a safe boating course this winter, and then when the weather is nice we’ll get back on the water.

Here are some shots I snapped this summer. My objective isn’t to be critical of anyone, it’s to show that everyone can use a brush up. There are a multitude of issues going on in these pictures, with some technical mistakes and others questionable calls.

The main issues with this shot is that the power boat isn’t entering the harbor in the main channel. Advice: Red, Right, Return. Secondly, the powerboat is leaving a wake.

Advice: Leave absolutely no wake in a no wake zone. A third issue is that the folks in both the power boat as well as the sail boat aren’t wearing life jackets. Advice: By the time you need a life vest it’s probably too late. With so many low profile and comfortable options available today it makes good sense that everyone aboard wears one, especially kids.

A keel in the mud and a boat on her side is never a good idea. Imagine the amount of stress added to the hull and the keel. Advice: The captain would have done well to review a nautical chart prior to dropping the hook and to consult a tide chart for the area.

Friction typically comes between those running power boats and those running sailboats. But here, the sailor running in skinny water is in very close proximity to the kayakers. Advice: Give each other some room, there’s lots of water to explore. And follow the “rules of the road.”

Properly mooring your boats is a good idea, particularly in a busy harbor or on a windy day. Significant damage can occur to these day sailors by crashing into each other. Advice: Tie off boats individually instead of collectively.

There are many more, but you get the point. Winter is a good time to freshen up on the basics of boating responsibly. And the more chapters we conclude the closer we’ll be to spring.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at