Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:40 pm
New Jersey has more than 130 miles of coastline stretching from Sandy Hook in the north to Cape May in the south (not to mention all the rivers and lakes that dot the state landscape). It’s safe to say that boating in NJ is a summertime tradition for many Garden State residents.
Before you weigh anchor and leave port, take a minute to review basic boating safety for a safe and fun-filled season. Here are some tips to help you get started – if you have more, post them in the comments below.
- Know the forecast. Make sure weather and water conditions are good and will stay that way. If the weather looks unfavorable, it’s best to take a raincheck on your boat day. Plus, choppy waters can make for a bumpy ride – especially if you have a smaller boat. In that case, consider waiting until the waters have calmed down.
- Check the tides. Make sure you know how the tides will affect the rivers and waters through which you’ll be traveling – some may become dangerously shallow.
- Life jackets are essential. Make sure your vessel is equipped with enough Coast Guard-approved life jackets for you and your passengers. Don’t forget to consider different sizes for children and adults. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and New Jersey all have their own life jacket laws. In the states that don’t have specific requirements, the Coast Guard requires children less than 13 years of age to wear approved life jackets.
- Have the right equipment. Make sure your boat is stocked with the right equipment before heading out. The Coast Guard has a helpful guide, which you can download here.
- Pack food and water. Whether you’re out for a quick joyride or spending a full day on the water, be sure your boat is equipped with enough water and food for you and your passengers.
- Be smart. Whether you’re a beginner or have been boating for years, you’ll be sharing waterways with captains of all levels. Always put safety first and err on the side of caution.
- Consider a free Vessel Safety Check. The Coast Guard offers complimentary safety checks for personal watercraft upon request. If you don’t pass, there are no consequences. This is simply the Coast Guard’s way of making boating safer for everyone. You can request your free safety check using this form.
- Take a boating safety course. It never hurts to brush up on boating education. There are a variety of courses available throughout the country, ranging from basic boat safety to reading the weather. The Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s website has a list of helpful courses.
- Have a second mate. There should be at least two people on a boat that are familiar with its handling, operations and general boating safety. If the primary operator is unable to operate the vessel, it’s imperative that someone else can safely get everyone onboard back to shore.
- Protect your boat. Boats are expensive, so make sure your investment is protected with insurance. Plymouth Rock Assurance in New Jersey can help you protect your vessel with boat and personal watercraft insurance.