National Safe Boating Week: General Tips

by Pat Schmidt, SanCap Boating Club

National Safe Boating Week (May 20-27) Safe at Sea presents a series of broad steps to remain not only safe, but also afloat and heading toward your destination.

Every experienced, knowledgeable boater (especially those who have taken America’s Boating Club courses) are well-versed about “The General Rule of Responsibility,” which states it is the boat captain’s responsibility to take whatever action necessary to prevent collision, even if it is in “violation” of the “Rules of the Road.”

Here are some tips: 

• Join America’s Boating Club.
This one simple step will offer nautical courses for everyone from the novice to the veteran boater, particularly those new to the area. In addition, there are a wealth of benefits members receive, ranging from discounts on boater’s insurance and towing insurance to vacation travels (on the water and on the land).
Go to for information about membership in America’s Boating Club. Easier still, call 612-987-2125!

• Study and Carry Chart 25 E.
This chart covers the surrounding waters of Sanibel-Captiva and will inform you of the intricate coastal waterways, to include channel depths, canal entries, etc.

• It’s shallow Out There!

• Follow markers whenever possible. This is particularly important (yet challenging) following Hurricane Ian as many markers are down or incorrectly placed. Be overly cautious.

• Know the tide stage.

• Study the chart before entering unknown water.

• Create a GPS route to navigate unknown water.

• Leave a GPS track.

• Learn to READ the WATER:
Color changes and surface changes = Caution
Flats are large expanses of shallow water: Do not cross
Bars are generally tan color. Stay clear
Grass humps appear darker than surrounding water. Beware
An area of unusually fast water may indicate under-water obstruction. Proceed slowly.
It’s easier to read water on sunny days. Use caution on cloudy days.

• Have a Vessel Safety Check
Does your boat comply with federal, state, and local Safety Requirements?
Do you know what those requirements are?

Vessel Safety Checks are a FREE public service provided by the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America’s Boating Club. Go to or call 612-987-2125.

“Hey! Let’s Be Safe Out There!” -Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Hill Street Blues”

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.