Several days into the search for two 14-year-old boys who have gone missing off the coast of Palm Beach, a national debate has sparked regarding marine safety. The heartbreaking situation has raised questions concerning the boys age, size of the boat and lack of supervision in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the two missing boys, said Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance. An unexpected crisis can happen to even the most experienced boaters. Marine safety should always be taken seriously when boating offshore.”
Making matters worse, hours after the boys left shore to go fishing, a series of powerful thunderstorms producing heavy winds and rainfall occurred moving up and down the coast. Florida law states there is no minimum age to operate a boat, although you must be 14 years of age operate personal watercraft. While there is no age restriction, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation recommends all boaters complete a boating safety course.
Marine experts agree, young people may not be prepared to emotionally and mentally handle life threatening situations. Florida marine expert, Rick Spilman told The Washington Post, “The water is a very dangerous place that can seem very safe.” Teens often experience the feeling of invincibility on the water and lack the maturity to discern a life-threatening situation.
Problems are not just limited to youth, but can happen to adults as well. Marine experts can testify tides, currents and weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly. David Pascoe, marine writer for Dockside Reports, advises checking a reliable weather source such as, The National Weather Service, (NWS) or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA) websites before heading out for the day.
Consider installing a radio in your vessel if you boat offshore. If a situation arises you will be able to contact The Coast Guard. Do not depend on you mobile phone, cell phone service is unreliable once you get out in the water.
Novice and young boaters would be best to boat in waterways and inlets. These areas are typically more populated so if a problem arises, such as a dead engine, you can flag someone down for help.
Always carry an adequate number of life vests for passengers on board. Even the strongest swimmers need a life jacket in the case of an emergency. Water conditions can be rough, you can lose your balance, or begin sinking from heavy, wet clothes. A life jacket is designed to keep your head above water so you can breathe.
Experience is your greatest advantage when a life-threatening crisis occurs while out on the water. Having a dependable boat insurance policy can put your mind at ease. GreatFlorida Insurance provides top notch boat insurance that can protect your vessel, your passengers and you, contact us today.