Water Fun and Water Safety

Follow these guidelines to keep water activities fun and safe.

Water Fun and Water Safety
Keep it fun, and safe.Courtesy Unsplash

Getting into a boat promises all kinds of fun. So does getting out of it—to swim, ski, wakeboard, wakesurf, or enjoy some other kind of boating activity. All it takes is a bit of gear, a yen for adventure, a touch of learning, and a rock-solid foundation of boating safety.

Swimming—where water temperature, and wind, wave and current conditions are appropriate—is simplest. Beaches, sandbars and islands are time-honored settings, but there’s something freedom feeding too about paddling about offshore. Don’t swim beyond your abilities, and don’t swim alone. Someone on the boat should keep track of swimmers and have rescue gear ready. But if that someone is all business, others can be all fun.

Up top, why not add to your boating fun by trailing behind it on water skis, a wakeboard or even a hands-free wakesurf board? Folks debate what’s easiest to learn, with skiing most often getting the nod, but all three are within the abilities of most. Wakesurfing is coming on strong; toss the rope and you might as well be hanging 10 on some breakers off Hawaii. Water-ski boats leave flatter wakes for easier crossing; wakeboard and wakesurf boats have ballast and trim systems to craft the perfect monster wave for launching tricks. Want some of that fast-moving fun without extensive gear or skills? Clamber into an inflatable tow-along for an on-water ride as wild as any terrestrial carnival offers.

Think of convenience and fun features when boat shopping: Swim platforms and boarding ladders are more than sexy trim. Ladders are required and should be deployable from in the water for the safe return of an accidental overboard. Swim platforms make donning skis or jumping on tubes easier, and platforms are also often the focal point for hanging out when the boat is beached or at anchor. Extended platforms not only offer more space, but they also reduce the likelihood a swimmer will stub their toe on an outdrive while swimming around at anchor.

Keep it fun, and safe. Swimmers, snorkelers, boarders or skiers leaving the boat or returning to it? Turn the motor off; experts say neutral is not enough.

Part of the fun of diving into the water on a hot day is the quick work it makes of excess heat. Physics explains how water easily transfers heat away from your body. But truly cold water can elicit a rapid “gasp reflex” that can lead to tragedy. Wearing a life jacket boosts the odds of overcoming it.

Even wearing a life jacket, don’t underestimate the ability of water to sap body heat. But safety assured, have some fun in the water. Make preparations to be on the water longer than planned. Regularly refresh your sunscreen. Munch on some snacks, and drink plenty of water. And make sure you have a passenger dedicated to the job of keeping an eye on the sport at the end of the rope!