Wearing Any Old Life Jacket — or None
Boaters come in all types and sizes. So do life jackets. Make sure passengers have a life jacket that fits them before you disembark. A proper fit means the life jacket fits snugly and won’t ride up around the head, but still allows adequate arm mobility. Life jackets are rated on the USCG label inside for the weight class they are designed to serve. Putting a 90-lb. kid in an extra large life jacket won’t do in an emergency — the child will slide right out of it. I’ve seen it happen. Life jackets only work when you wear them and they fit.
Ignoring the Kill Lanyard
Your boat is equipped with a kill lanyard and I’ll bet you don’t use it. I have one too, and I’ve been guilty of that omission a time or two, myself. I was even thrown from the helm once and was fortunate I was able to regain my footing before anything bad happened. I know one boater who fell overboard while underway and when the unmanned boat circled back to him, he tried to get back aboard. He recovered from the gruesome results, but has some creepy looking scars to commemorate the event. Use your kill lanyard. Failing to do so could be as deadly as failing to use a life jacket.
Leaving a Fender Hanging
At first glance, the captain skimming down the waterway with his rubber fender hanging overboard just looks like a buffoon. But should he cross a stiff wake, and should the crest of that wake slap the fender smartly, the force might just sling it right over the gunwale and into a passenger’s face. It’s dangerous to leave a fender hanging out while underway — and dangerous looks dumb.