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How to Ensure the Safety of All on a Family Boating Trip

Spending quality time with your family requires a little planning at times. And this is even more evident when you are planning to go on a family boating trip. Waking up one day and deciding to go isn’t quite the best idea, especially if going out on the open waters is a first for your family members, particularly the kids.

A family outing will only be enjoyable if you are sure about the safety of everyone on board. Be it a leisurely cruise or a fishing adventure, you need to make sure that you and your family stay safe during the entire trip. To do it, you need to engage them all.

But how do you do it? It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Here’s a how-to guide for help.

Learn the basics; even better include your family in the learning processes. When you are going out on the open waters, you need to conquer your fear of it first. And what better way to do it than by learning to swim? Enrol all members of your family to a swimming course and have fun splashing in the waters.

Learning to administer basic first aid and undergoing CPR training is also another good idea. This will help you all be prepared for emergencies. It will also ensure your peace of mind when you know that they will be able to handle any adverse situation, if it occurs.

Another point to take care of is the boat licence. In NSW, a licence is necessary if you operate a vessel that can travel at more than 10 knots. Why not enrol your partner and the kids in the NSW boat licence course as well? Any kid above the age of 12 can get a licence meant especially for them.


Assign different roles to different people. A boat licence course gives your family a good idea about how to operate a vessel. Once this knowledge is acquired, you can ensure their participation by planning their roles and responsibilities on board.

Younger children, who don’t have any boating experience, need not be left out. A little creativity is all you need to get them involved in the boating chores too. Give a little one a clipboard to make a list of all safety equipment on board. Give an older one a pair of binoculars, ask them to keep out a watch on the weather, and report any changes.

Enrol with your partner in the marine radio licence course to make sure that two people on board have a clear idea about how to operate the radio, especially if you face trouble. Being capable is always a better choice.


Get personal floatation devices (PFD) for all. You never can be too safe. So, it’s essential that you choose the right lifejackets for everyone on board before you plan a family cruise. Remember, everyone needs PFD Type 1 when you go out on the open waters.

How do you choose the right lifejackets? Keep the right factors in mind:

Size – a snug fit ensures proper use

  • Weight – needs to be at par with the child’s body weight
  • Comfort – a good one aids floatation


Don’t try to save on lifejackets – they are the only things that will keep your family afloat if any unfortunate accident occurs. Check for buoyancy collars to make sure that the nose and mouth remain out of water and free for breathing. Also, opt for bright coloured PFDs, as they are much easier to spot.


Stress on the use and misuse of safety equipment. You need to check the safety equipment on board before you go on a trip. You also need to make sure that they are in a place where everyone can get to them with ease.

Teach your partner and kids the use of basic safety equipment. Let them light up a flare or sound a signal. Help them understand the utility of such distress signals and the right times to use them. Don’t frighten them; the goal is to make them aware, not afraid. Encourage them to ask questions, express fears, and acknowledge doubts.

Along with the knowledge of the use of safety equipment, everyone needs to know what is considered as the misuse of them. Emphasize on why the misuse of the distress signals can lead to trouble, and even result in penalties.


Don’t just preach; practice as well. Setting rules is necessary; but keep in mind that rules apply to everyone, not just the kids. Arranging for regular vessel checks, getting updates on the boating rules, keeping a tab on the weather conditions, planning out the itinerary, informing someone about your plans, and checking safety gear are essential things you cannot miss out on.

Children are at risk without control; running around on deck or trying to put their hands in the water can result in disaster. You need to set some rules. Follow them too; that’s often the best way to teach your kids, as they learn mostly by imitation.

Having fun with your family on the open waters in a boat is an amazing experience. Don’t spoil it by adding alcohol in the mix. Just as on the road, drinking and driving doesn’t go well on the waters either. When your family’s safety and wellbeing depends on your capability as a boat operator, you cannot do otherwise.

A great family trip is possible when everyone is aware of the safety concerns.

Does this mean that you have to keep on worrying every minute? Not really! You are out to have fun with your partner and kids, and that needs to be the primary concern. Focus on it, and keep safety in mind, and you will have the perfect time fondly remembered by all as the best holiday they went on.

Getting the right training for yourself and your family members in boating, and getting their licences, ensures that you have a group who can handle the watercraft with ease even if you face some untoward hurdle.

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