BoatU.S., the nations largest recreational boat owners association, predicts that this years July 4th holiday could bring a significant increase in boating traffic to Americas waterways. The association is urging all boaters to operate cautiously, think safety and be prepared.
“Two factors may significantly contribute to the highest level of boating activity weve seen in a long time on any July 4th holiday,” said Ruth Wood, vice president, BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. “We believe the events of Sept. 11 will bring an unprecedented number of patriotic boaters to the water for fireworks displays and ceremonies. Secondly, unlike last year, this years July 4 th holiday period is four days long, giving boaters more opportunities to enjoy the water, but also increasing the time needed to stay vigilant and cautious.”
“Everyone needs to make extra effort to stay alert, safe, and yet still have fun,” said Wood. “The combination of sun, wind, noise, glare and alcohol consumption – which brings on dehydration – decreases situational awareness. With a lot of boaters potentially in the same condition, this could be a dangerous mix,” she added.
On-the-water breakdowns are also expected to increase due to the long holiday, but a different factor – night time operation – could also spell trouble for some boaters. “This is the one time of year that there is a terrific amount of boat traffic without the benefit of daylight, and its moving all at the same time, right after the fireworks show ends. We are prepared for a disproportionate amount of calls for jump starts and groundings after 7:00pm,” said TowBoatU.S. assistant vice president Jerry Cardarelli. TowBoatU.S. predicts that over 4,000 boats nationwide will breakdown or go aground from Thursday to Sunday night.
Before going to fireworks displays, Cardarelli urges boats not to leave the dock or ramp without a fully functioning electrical system and running lights. “Night time entertaining with cabin fans, a refrigerator and a CD radio will take more out of your battery than you think,” he said.
In addition to re-familiarizing yourself with your areas charts, Cardarelli said not to hurry home after the show ends. “Stay away from those short cuts. Take your time, post a spotter, and be on the lookout for boats running without lights. Every year some water craft operators decide that a flashlight will get them home, and those are the boaters who you need to look out for.”