For small boats, it’s all about fun. Whether you’re out for the day on a small lake or the open ocean, activities like fishing, tubing, and wakeboarding are usually the reason for leaving the dock.
For the shipping industry, the job is the focus. Getting a thousand-foot ship full of products from port to port across thousands of miles of open water is the only focus for the captain and crew. The only way to do that successfully is with a focus on maritime safety.
As small boat owners, safety can be an afterthought. Unfortunately, this mindset can lead to more injuries and damage than anything else.
Boaters have to face two threats every time they hit the key, fire up the engines, or hoist the sails.
The second threat, and one that should never be taken lightly, is Mother Nature. On any body of water, the weather can change in a heartbeat. Sudden severe thunderstorms, high winds, and waterspouts are the obvious threat to boater safety. However, the sun can be just as dangerous when a group is out for the day with limited shade.
The number one threat to boaters’ safety is – boaters themselves. Too much alcohol, poor judgment, inattention, and inexperience can lead to injury and death faster than any other external influence.
On the ocean, the shipping industry has many of those same threats, although ships can be compared to a manufacturing plant for landlubbers or those with no point of reference. Big ships have far less in common with smaller boats than they do with a plant other than they float.
Lots of moving parts, exposed surfaces, and a high maintenance regimen – all of which is moving across potentially choppy seas – can make it easy for someone who is reckless, not paying attention, or ignoring important safety protocols to make one misstep that leads to injury or death.
Safety at sea is an important concern no matter how big the boat is. However, on the open ocean, ships may have qualified medical personnel onboard, but there’s no pulling over to address an issue. There is no way to run to the ER with symptoms or call for help when a specialist is necessary.
And no sudden stops by a laughing group of friends to pick up the guy who got drunk and fell overboard.
Safety at sea, or on the lake, or in the river should be the Number One concern for anyone setting foot on a vessel of any size. For small boaters, safety should be the boat owner or captain’s focus from the moment he starts his day.
If you are a boat owner, you need to think ahead. Pay attention. Stay alert. And focus on the people who are your in YOUR care for the day when you head out from the dock.
Whether it’s making sure there are enough life jackets or making sure there’s plenty of water onboard, keeping people alive and well is a huge part of your responsibility. Adopt the big ship mentality for maritime safety and bring your passengers back to the dock in the same condition they were in when you left for a fun-filled day in the on the water.
For more information on big ships and safety at sea, check out this extensive guide to maritime safety put together by the crew at The Lanier Law Firm.