Monday, May 18, 2009

Responsibilities of a Vessel Operator

Please welcome my Guest Writer today. Sandee of Comedy Plus.

Powerboats, sailboats, and personal watercraft (PWCs) offer many opportunities for their operators to enjoy the waters. Along with the enjoyment comes responsibilities—both to the passengers and to others who share the public waterways.
Sharing the fun of your vessel with your friends and family is all part of the boating experience. When you are operating a vessel, you have a responsibility to your passengers. You also are responsible when you let someone else drive your vessel. As the owner, you could be held liable for any damage caused by it, no matter who is driving at the time.
Responsibility to Your Passengers
As the operator of a vessel, you are responsible for ensuring that your passengers understand basic safety practices and laws.
Use a pre-departure checklist to make sure you've taken the necessary safety precautions.
Before departing, have a safety discussion with everyone on board. Some of the things you should point out are:
Locations of emergency equipment—life jackets (PFDs), fire extinguisher(s), visual distress signals, first-aid kit, and bilge pump. Chapter 4 has the legal requirements for your state.
The need for all passengers to wear a PFD, especially during times of high vessel traffic, severe weather, or any other dangerous boating conditions
Laws about reckless operation, required equipment, and waste disposal. Chapter 4 has the legal requirements for your state.
Safety procedures for responding to a fire or someone falling overboard
How to signal for help or use the VHF radio to make a MAYDAY call
How to anchor the vessel and handle lines (ropes)
Conduct emergency drills with your passengers so that everyone knows what to do in case of a boating emergency.
Pre-Departure Checklist
Another way you can assure a good time while operating your vessel is to perform a pre-departure check.
Check the weather forecast for the area and timeframe during which you will be boating.
Make sure the steering and throttle controls are operating properly.
Check that all lights are working properly.
Check for any fuel leaks from the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor.
Check the engine compartment for oil leaks.
Check hose connections for leaks or cracks, and make sure hose clamps are tight.
Drain all water from the engine compartment, and be sure the bilge plug is replaced and secure.
Make sure you have enough fuel or know where you can refuel.
Check to be sure you have a fully charged engine battery and fire extinguishers.
If so equipped, make sure the ignition safety switch and wrist lanyard are in good order.
Make sure that you have the required number of personal flotation devices and that they are in good condition.
Leave a float plan with a reliable friend or relative.
Responsibility to Others You Allow To Operate Your Vessel
You always should make sure that anyone operating your vessel understands his or her responsibilities as a driver and knows how to operate safely and responsibly.
Before allowing others to operate your vessel:
Check that they meet the minimum age and boater education requirements for operation in your state. Chapter 4 has the legal requirements for your state.
Make sure they know basic boating safety and navigation rules.
Show them how to use the lanyard with the ignition safety switch and require them to use it.
Explain the importance of obeying "idle speed," "headway speed," or "slow, no wake" restrictions.
Stress the need to keep a proper lookout for other boaters and hazards.
Carefully explain all the important safety and operating points before allowing someone to operate your PWC. Never allow someone too young or too inexperienced to operate alone. Chapter 4 has the legal requirements for your state.
Before allowing others to drive your personal watercraft (PWC):
Check that they meet the minimum age and boater education requirements for PWCs.
Tell them that they have the same responsibilities as other vessel operators.
If they are new to PWCs, have them practice in an uncrowded area first. While near shore, show how to start and reboard the PWC properly.
Be sure to explain how to steer and control the PWC. Remind them to keep plenty of distance from other vessels and that power is required for steering control!
Point out that it is easy to have so much fun that you forget to watch where you are going. Tell them to make sure the area is clear before making a turn.
Responsibility to the Environment
While the effect of a single vessel on our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters may seem insignificant, multiply that impact by the millions of vessels on the waterways today. To preserve and protect the waters, wildlife, and aquatic vegetation enjoyed while boating, each person must be responsible.
Keep waterways clean and disease-free by disposing of waste properly.
If your vessel is equipped with an installed toilet (marine sanitation device), make sure no sewage is discharged into the water. Empty the holding tanks only into pump-out stations. Chapter 4 has the legal requirements for your state.
Don't throw any litter overboard. Bring all trash back on shore to dispose of properly. Be sure to retrieve anything that blows overboard.
Fishing lines and plastics are deadly for fish and fowl and should never be discarded in the water or near shore.
Plastic six-pack holders can trap or strangle birds, fish, and other wildlife. Always properly dispose of these on land by snipping each circle of the holders with scissors.
Remember, if you have room to take it, you have room to bring it back!

Empty your holding tanks only into pump-out stations.
Did You Know?
Here are some common ways that boaters harm the environment.
If you simply toss your trash into the water, it will be around for years. Here's the time it takes for some common items to decompose.
Paper takes 2-4 weeks. Wax-coated paper, such as a fast food wrapper or cup, takes much longer.
Tin cans take 100 years.
Aluminum cans take 200-500 years.
Plastic six-pack rings or any other plastic takes 450 years.
Glass bottles take more than 500 years.
Small amounts of petroleum products spilled in the water can have a large impact.
One gallon of gasoline can contaminate 750 gallons of drinking water.
One single quart of oil when spilled can create an oil slick as large as three football fields and remain in the area for up to two years.
Practice the three Rs—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Many marinas provide facilities for recycling oil, aluminum, glass, and antifreeze. Use these services whenever possible.
Carry reusable items such as plates, silverware, cups, and glasses on board to reduce waste.
Recycle old fire extinguishers and marine batteries.
Protect the shoreline from erosion, and preserve aquatic vegetation.
Reduce throttle to "no wake" speed when close to a shoreline or in small rivers to help prevent erosion.
Don't operate in shallow water where your prop or pump intake can stir up bottom sediments and destroy aquatic plants.
Drain the bilge and clean the prop before leaving a waterway. Failure to do so may transport plants or animals from one waterway to another and disrupt the natural balance of the environment.
Avoid using toxic substances on your vessel or around the water.
Reduce the amount of detergent you use when cleaning your vessel. Use non-phosphate products, such as hydrogen peroxide, on your vessel. Don't use toxic cleaners.
Don't use toxic paints or other toxic products on your vessel. If you must use chemical products on your vessel, minimize their use while on the water.
Before the first use of your vessel in the spring, drain the antifreeze into a container and properly dispose of it on shore. Never use antifreeze containing ethylene glycol.
When fueling, don't top off the tank. Promptly mop up any fuel spills.
Responsibility to Others Using the Waterways
As a vessel operator, you are just one of many who are enjoying the privilege of using the public waterways. It is your responsibility to stay aware of others in or on the water and to respect their use of the waterways. Remember that being a responsible operator includes controlling the noise of your boat or PWC.
Taken from: California Boating Education
Thank you, Sandee for being my first Guest Writer....
Appreciate you....


  1. Boating is fun, but a very big responsibility too. Thanks for letting me share a very small part of boating safety.

    Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)


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