Boating can be one of the most joyous parts of summer, especially on Long Island.
There is truly nothing like the breeze running through our hair as we relax with family and friends, soaking up the natural beauty and the overwhelming landscape.
But it’s important to remember that boating is a privilege, not a right. Despite the fact that a night on the water could create lifelong memories, you don’t need a boat to get to work, the doctor or the grocery store.
This makes it even more imperative to be safe and considerate while on the water. It also makes it even more senseless when tragedies occur. Even the most experienced of boaters, like James Jaronczyk, of Massapequa, who died in the Great South Bay earlier this month, clearly can succumb to the dangers of the water. Sadly, these stories are not unique.
According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 636 boating fatalities nationwide in 2022, a 3.3% decrease from the 658 deaths in 2021. The most devastating aspect of the statistics is that several of the deaths were preventable.
Of the total fatalities 88 deaths, or 16%, involved alcohol. “Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and machinery failure,” were other contributing factors, according to the Coast Guard report. Of the victims 75% drowned, and of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.
As the Coast Guard advises, boaters must stay sober, check the weather, carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon — which signals if you get into trouble — and have VHF-FM radio on hand in case cell service drops.
Also always let someone who is staying onshore know your float plan, which breaks down where you are going, how long you will be gone, a description of your boat and the safety equipment you have on board. Boating is not a time to take risks or explore coves and inlets you have not been to before, if you do not know what you are doing.
Most importantly, boaters should register for a boating safety course as they can never be too experienced to refresh their knowledge or learn something new. They have an obligation to themselves and those on board to practice responsible boating habits and return home safely.
We at TBR News Media wish you a happy, fun and safe summer on the water with your families and friends.