Everyone loves to head out onto the boat for the day to enjoy the outdoors and be out on the open water.
However, one of the quickest ways to spoil the fun is to have a boating accident caused by alcohol.
Boating trips should be treated like car trips and the designated driver should stay sober and alert.
Alcohol affects your body by:
1. Increasing your reaction time.
2. A sober skipper will make better judgments about speed and distance between hazards and if something does threaten to happen will be better able to avoid an accident.
3. Increasing the likelihood of ending up overboard during an incident.
4. Balance and coordination are greatly affected by alcohol and you are more likely to end up overboard in the event of a sudden stop or turn.
5. Changes the way your body reacts in the water.
6. Alcohol reduces the amount of blood flow to your brain and muscles which results in more rapid heat loss which can lead to hypothermia. It also inhibits your ability to hold your breath.
7. Decreasing your ability to survive once in the water.
8. As a result of high blood alcohol levels you have an increased sense of security and a false perception of your abilities. You may try to do something that you aren’t capable of and worsen your situation.
Preparation is key.
The best way to avoid of these dangers is to save your cocktail hour for the shore. Plan your day on the water without alcohol or limit the amount.
When packing your boat and cooler for the day only bring one or two alcoholic beverages per person on the boat. That way no one will be able to over indulge. It’s just as important for passengers to stay sober as it is for the skipper.
Pack plenty of water and bring pop or smoothie shakes to sip on while you’re out on the water. Alternate between water and beer to keep hydrated and within reasonable limits.
Pack something for everyone to eat, especially if you plan to stopover anywhere. Of course you don’t want to have a heavy meal if you are going to be swimming but keeping snacks handy will provide an alternative to drinking.
Remember that there is no such thing as ‘off duty’ when you are out on the water. Even if you are anchored, you need to be ready and able to respond to an emergency.