Are you ready to hit the waves?


Traveling by boat is not always smooth sailing. If we’re not properly prepared, the waterways around us can wreak havoc with the boat and people aboard. Before you leave the dock, take a close look at the inside and outside of your vessel.

What would happen if your boat turns upside down? What will be thrown around or lost overboard? We all pray that we will never be in that position, but ocean seas, opposing wind and current, and large wakes from passing boats can cause people and property to become thrown about with great force. Follow these tips to travel safely:

  • Secure, tie down or put away everything down below. I once watched a TV fly off a shelf, bounce off the settee, and land on a pillow on the cabin sole. I’m glad nobody was resting on that settee! Lamps, computers, and coffee pots on counters or tables can be quite dangerous flying through the air.
  • Secure everything on deck. Water and fuel jugs can wash overboard if not lashed down securely. Fenders and extra lines could end up in the water and possibly foul your prop. Then you’ll have another issue to deal with. Check the lashings on your dinghy, whether it’s secured on deck or in davits.
  • Add handholds above and below deck where needed. Make sure everyone on board knows to have one hand securely holding on when walking about. Landlubbers may not know how quickly a boat can jolt from side to side.

Whether you’re going on a short trip or a farther destination, keeping your boat shipshape and having everything properly stowed can make for a safe and pleasant journey! –Capt. Beth Schwab

This article first appeared in Scuttlebutt, the newsletter of North Strand Sail & Power Squadron/26.

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The Ensign magazine is an official channel of United States Power Squadrons, America’s Boating Club, a volunteer organization whose members teach boating skills and best practices to help improve the safety of our nation’s waterways. Learn more.