I just took a short vacation to sunny, warm Acapulco. I quickly
adapted to the 125 degree difference between NYC and Acapulco.
No, there wasn't a misprint! 125 degrees was the apparent temperature
difference! In NYC (with wind chill factor) it was -40 degrees
Fahrenheit. In Acapulco, it was a warm and balmy 85 degrees.
But I digress somewhat from my intended point: Good boating
habits are good boating habits. They don't stop at the border
of your city or town; county or state; lake or river; ocean
or country. Good boating habits are universal!
While in Mexico, I picked up a local newspaper. Lo and behold,
on page one was an article on how the recent increase in boating
accidents had reached the attention of the Captain of the Port.
Unfortunately, both time and a lack of language skills did not
permit me to fully explore the article, yet the fact remains
that boating accidents happen wherever people boat.
Good boating habits
Let's take some good boating habits that the Coast Guard and
Coast Guard Auxiliary try to convey to our boating community.
These three points are both interdependent and independent.
They are universal and also givens (which mean they are always
true regardless of the situation) and most importantly, if you
follow them, the statistics tell us you’re less likely
to become a (negative) statistic.
Well, back to my vacation. On my journeys around the coast
and both Acapulco Bay and Puerto Marquez Bay I saw all manner
of marine sport being enjoyed by one and all.
From boogie boarding to jet skis (PWC); kayaks to sailboards;
snorkeling to power boating. Men, women and child alike were
enjoying the beautiful waters.
However, were they safely enjoying these sports?
Safety is not a geo-political casualty
Each of these endeavors can be made safer and more enjoyable
by following the aforementioned three concepts.
Let's start with alcohol and drugs. This is an easy target
for suggesting not to partake and not to participate. If your
judgment is impaired, your likelihood for loosing your balance
or awareness of your direction and surrounding increases.
Unfortunately, many a participant was imbued with margaritas
and Cerveza (beer).
We went on a boat ride that took us to the famed Acapulco cliff
divers. This seaborne tour also included snorkeling, diving
and kayaking. An added bonus that had all of us, including Captain
and Crew thrilled, was the grey whale pod that surfaced next
to the boat.
For thirty minutes the three adults and one calf entertained
us with their playfulness. What wonderful pictures and videos
we all took!
We dropped anchor in a little cove in Acapulco Bay. Here the
Crew of our boat took out the kayaks and snorkeling equipment.
The only missing component or piece of equipment were buoyancy
compensators for the snorkelers and PFD's for the kayakers.
One couple, who claimed to be members of a Boston area kayak
club, not only went kayaking without a PFD, but took their toddler
without her PFD. They didn't even put a life jacket on their
little girl while we were in the ocean, which was running 2
to 6 foot seas.
Boating education isn't just about safety equipment and its
use, nor is it about navigation. It’s not about how your
GPS works, or how your depth finder integrates with your other
Not to say that these topics shouldn't be learned and applied
to make your boating trip safer and more enjoyable, but there
are other aspects to boating education that people tend to forget,
especially while on vacation.
If you’re going to use a new type of boat, learn all
you can about its operation before you leave the dock. Once
you feel that you have mastered this lesson(s), take it slow
and easy. Learn how the boat handles. Learn how it takes a turn.
Learn the full range of throttle positions (remember, power
craft have more than two positions, that of stop and full throttle)!
Safety can, to a certain extent, be mandated - but common sense
So, whether you’re on vacation in your own back yard,
or in another country, if you’re boating, utilize the
good boating skills that we in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard
You'll be safer and have a more enjoyable holiday!
For more information about the Coast Guard www.uscg.mil
or Coast Guard Auxiliary www.cgaux.org
contact you local United States Coast Guard unit.