|Disclaimer: I am not a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard. For an official interpretation of regulations you must contact the US Coast Guard or other organization referenced.. More.....||
Don't Drink And Drive!
Boating has an unfortunate reputation as being about boats and booze. However, the vast majority of boaters and sailors know that alcohol and water is a deadly mix. The best place for alcohol on a boat is locked in a locker until the boat is safely tied to the dock.
Just as drinking and driving on land is dangerous and illegal, drinking and operating your boat is also dangerous and illegal. U. S. Coast Guard statistics show that one third of boating fatalities involve alcohol. The law says you cannot operate a boat under the influence, and the level is set by Federal Law at 0.08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). Most US states have adopted this same BAC limit. Furthermore, there have been many research studies done by the US Coast Guard and other boating organizations that show that alcohol has a much greater affect on your senses when underway on a boat than on land. Early studies in the 1970's and 80's by the Coast Guard showed that four hours or more out on the water caused enough stress on a person that their reaction time and judgment became slower than if they had a single drink. Add alcohol to that and it is slowed even further. In addition, alcohol diminishes your ability to see colors and makes it hard to differentiate red and green lights. It degrades your visual acuity as well, that is, your vision gets fuzzy.
If your guests on board must drink, or if you go out on the boat at a party or event where there is drinking, someone must be the designated driver. Someone needs to stay sober to operate the boat. The designated operator needs to be someone with adequate experience operating the boat. This sounds obvious but accidents have occurred because the designated person had no experience operating the boat, or operating a boat at night. Your guests will still have fun, and they will do it safely with a safe sober experienced operator.
Take a boating course:
Canada requires recreational boaters to take a course and obtain a Boating Card.
In the USA many states now require a boat operator to take a boating course and some require you to take a test to get a boating card. There are many courses available. All states either teach courses or have an on-line course available. There are many organizations who give courses that are accepted by the states. Examples are;
Boat US. http://www.boatus.com/foundation/
US Coast Guard Auxiliary. http://cgaux.org/boatinged/
US Power Squadron. http://usps.org/
State Approved Boating Courses: http://www.nasbla.net/courseListing.php
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