Here are some things to consider before you leave the dock (and it goes without saying, we hope you have adequate Florida boat insurance!):
It’s easy to get lost in Florida. There are many areas that are sparsely populated and countless inlets, islands, and backwaters that make navigation extremely challenging. For safety, it is advisable to have a GPS or nautical map and a radio so that if you get lost or run into trouble, you are able to provide your exact location.
Cell phone coverage is limited. Do not, as many have done and regretted, rely on your cell phone for a boating emergency. Service is limited to non-existent in many areas of Florida. Each time you go boating you should file a float plan with someone you trust and ensure you have a functioning radio as well as navigation equipment.
Every summer is hurricane season in Florida. Every boater needs a hurricane plan and comprehensive Florida boat insurance. Other stormy weather–notably thunder and lightning storms–are also very hazardous to boaters.
Running aground is a common hazard. There are many sandbars and Florida’s waterways are shallow, especially when the tide is out – even if you stay well within the navigational markers. When you are boating, you need to be watchful and may want to rely on a depth finder and up-to-date nautical charts. Be warned, too, that if you run aground, passengers on your boat could be injured (how good is the liability coverage for your Florida boat insurance?), you could damage your boat, or you could get a fine if marine officials see that you damage sea grass.
Dangerous critters. Florida is home to many interesting creatures and diverse wildlife, but some of these can be dangerous to people boating. Be cautious in waters that are known to have crocodiles or alligators, which are known to live in coastal areas in brackish or saltwater as well as in freshwater rivers, poisonous snakes such as Water Moccasins, sting rays (which can leap out of the water near boats), jellyfish (including the tiny sea lice), sharks, and barracudas to name a few. While you may not be tempted to swim in water with such potential predators, you need to watch to ensure your boat doesn’t end up with any of these critters coming aboard unexpectedly – for instance if someone is fishing.
Every boat should have personal flotation device for every passenger, a fully stocked first aid kit, emergency supplies, and a functioning radio.
Take the time to be prepared for potential boating hazards to minimize risk for you and your passengers. Contact our friendly Florida boat insurance specialists at Global Marine Insurance to review your insurance coverage before you need to make a claim.