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How can you prevent accidents at sea?

The cruise manual for the National Science Foundation's Sikuliaq boldly states that "virtually all accidents" are preventable. If anyone can make a statement that bold, certainly the NSF can. They, along with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, operate Sikuliaq, "one of the most advanced research vessels in the world." In the manual for operating the sophisticated ship, mariners establish safety guidelines to protect Alaskans from avoidable injuries. Even if your boat is much smaller and less technologically driven, and you use it mostly for fishing runs with family and friends, following these recommendations can help you keep both passengers and crew safer when navigating ocean waters.

One of the best ways to prevent mishaps on boats is to train frequent riders in safety and emergency protocol. When first-timers join you for a day on the water, let the experienced navigators pass their knowledge on to the newcomers. Whatever you do, do not neglect taking the time for this important step. It may seem easier to rush through a few pointers and hand out life vests, but in the event of an unexpected emergency, you will not regret the extra minutes or hours you spent preparing your passengers.

Also, resist cutting corners on the purchase and use of safety equipment. Spend the money for the extra vests or other life-saving devices. Sometimes it may seem more convenient to budget for additional protection next month or next year, but putting it off puts you at greater risk. It may also seem more time consuming and less productive to follow step-by-step safety protocol when preparing for a day of boating or fishing. However, as mentioned previously, that little bit of extra time or added expense may be the difference between losing and saving lives.

In addition to the above, the cruise manual offers some practical steps for maritime safety:

  • Keep all passageways free of clutter for easy entrance and exit.
  • Keep the doors closed at all times or latched tightly if open.
  • Never go backwards up a ship's ladder or carry big items when climbing one.

Be sure every passenger on your boat is aware of how to stay safe to prevent the unthinkable on your vessel.

This information only intends to educate regarding maritime safety and should not be interpreted as legal advice. 



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