Sea Grant Agent
Pinellas County Extension
Boating can be fun, relaxing, and thrilling-sometimes all at the same time. Did you know that Florida ranks 2nd in the United States for number of registered boaters? With so many boats on the water, it is important that we all take steps to ensure the safety of our fellow boaters and the health of the water we enjoy. Whether you are a seasoned or novice boater, there are some easy tips that you can follow to be a safe and more environmentally-friendly boater.
· Carelessness and inattention are the leading causes of boating accidents in Florida. Attention to your surroundings while on the water can ensure a safe and enjoyable outing. Life Jackets are required by law to be on your vessel. However, a life jacket cannot help you in an emergency, unless you are wearing it. So, it is best to select a comfortable life jacket for your needs that you are likely to wear regularly. Be sure to have the necessary safety equipment for your vessel size and type- a complete list can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.
· Boater safety courses offer a good introduction to boating for novice boaters and refresher for more experienced boaters. In order to operate a motorboat of ten (10) horsepower or greater, Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1988 to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
· The Florida Department of Environmental Protection sponsored Clean Boater Program educates boaters on the importance of protecting the state’s waterways by adopting environmentally friendly practices, including proper trash management, using bilge socks and fueling collars, and practicing good recycling habits. Boaters are encouraged to take the Clean Boater Pledge and educate other boaters on the importance of protecting the environment they enjoy. By adopting pollution prevention measures, Florida Clean Boaters can take pride in knowing they are doing their part to keep Florida waterways.
This weekend, enjoy the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the largest boat show on the Gulf Coast. The show runs from Thursday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 2 at Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, FL.
The show features an impressive selection of power boats and sailboats in water and on land, including a 40,000-square-foot clearspan tent housing all types of marine gear. In addition to the large selection of exhibits at this year’s show, there will be an array of special events and fun and educational activities, including marine seminars and the youth fishing clinics presented by the non-profit group Hook the Future.