It’s time to share the water again.
As increased boater traffic descends upon SW Florida, a partial review of The Navigational Rules of the Road seems timely.
Common sense dictates not to operate at high speed in high traffic density areas. A safe speed allows people piloting boats time to respond to situations as they develop, and minimizes the risk of collision—not only with the nearest approaching vessel, but with others around it…the domino effect, if you will.
As winds and seas increase, slow down—the boat will handle more predictably and easily. Pounding on swells or becoming airborne fatigues the hull and/or could injure you or your passengers.
If conditions develop that make it difficult to see, slow down. Fog and rain are obvious limiting factors to visibility. Others are visible obstructions—bends in river, piers, bridges and causeways—these, along with heavy boat traffic, can limit your view of “the bigger picture.”
- Low light situations or steering directly into the sun decreases your ability to see objects or judge distance.
- Avoid spray on the windscreen (particularly salt spray) as much as possible and clean it regularly. Spray build-up on the windscreen is particularly hazardous in darkness or when glare is a factor, as it intensifies it.
Besides Heavy Seas, Traffic Density, and Visibility there are additional external factors that will have an effect your vessels ability of running at a safe speed.
In shallow water, the bottom affects the movement of your boat. Slow down. If the water is extremely shallow, the boat’s stern tends to “squat” and actually moves closer to the bottom.
When meeting another vessel in a narrow channel or operating near a bank certain considerations apply:
- The deeper your vessel’s draft, the greater the cushion and suction effect caused by the bank nearest you—particularly if your boat’s draft is nearly the same as the depth of the waters you are operating in.
- The closer to a bank or another vessel, the greater the cushion and suction will affect your boat.
- In very narrow waterways, slow down to decrease cushion and suction effects, just not to the point of losing your ability to maintain steering control.