jump in!Nothing is as exhilarating, on a hot summer day, as breezing through the water on a boat of any kind.  If you want to top off that day, jumping into the water can be refreshing and energizing.  Swimming from your boat can be great, but there’s a time and place for it. Never swim in a marked channel, even if there are no boats around. You never know when a boat with limited maneuvering abilities will come along.  Swimming in marinas should also be avoided. Marinas are made for boats to come and go; they are no place for swimmers. In addition to the risk of being run over, boats that are plugged into AC shore power can sometimes leak electricity into the water, either from the boat or from the marina’s electrical systems, putting swimmers at considerable risk. Illegal dumping of holding tanks also occurs in some marinas, further making them unpleasant swimming holes.  Avoid swimming in areas where there are strong currents or undertow.

Enter the water gradually, never dive. Under a boat, the terrain can be uneven, and landing on a rock or shallow spot is a real risk. Even if you’re going back to a familiar spot, droughts and currents can change bottom characteristics.  Diving from a boat is extremely dangerous due to the unknown depth of the water.

Never leave the boat’s engine running while swimmers are in the water. Propellers can be deadly, and so can carbon monoxide fumes. When swimming from a boat, wear a life jacket for flotation or have flotation devices in the water for easy access by swimmers. Running a line off the back of your boat with a flotation ring can also be useful. If you do get off of your boat, make sure there is an easy way to get back on. Not all boats are easy on, easy off.

If you have a swim platform, take a look at the cleats or other hardware attached to it that could cause injury if a person slips and falls on it. Make sure your platform is safe for all swimmers. You can improve the non-skid by using a nonskid tape, which is inexpensive and much safer than the molded-in patterns.

Snorkeling is a popular activity for boaters. Always practice snorkeling in a pool before trying it from your boat. Breathing through a tube may seem easy, but for some people it takes some practice. It’s easy to become flustered or fatigued when you are in the ocean and confused about your equipment. Snorkeling can be very distracting, so snorkelers must make an effort to look up every few moments to gauge their position and make sure they haven’t strayed too far from the boat, or into a channel.

Your boat can be transportation to some of the most beautiful swimming and snorkeling spots in the area but always exercise caution and safety.  The water underneath your boat changes constantly and has many unknowns.  Look before you leap!!!

Source: “Boat US – Online Boating Safety Study Guide.” Boat US – Online Boating Safety Study Guide. Web. 06 May 2013.

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