How to safely view a boat parade
Each December, hundreds of towns on the water across the U.S. hold festive holiday boat parades. Many local boaters festoon their vessels with lights and join the parade, while others line the route with their boats to enjoy the best view.
These seasonal events can cause crowded and disorienting conditions. If you’re thinking of taking your vessel out to watch a boat parade, follow these tips:
- Designate a sober skipper. Assign someone to stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the parade.
- Watch your weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or near the helm, or look up the passenger capacity in the owner’s manual.
- Don’t forget your life jacket. Make sure everyone onboard the boat is wearing warm clothes topped by either a traditional or an inflatable life jacket that fits. Navigating at night in a crowd of other vessels can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or fog.
- Things look different at night. Remember that the visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may not be visible at night. Chart your route to the parade-viewing zone in advance, and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it if necessary.
- Relax and enjoy the show. Don’t be in a rush to get home after the parade; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor.
- Listen up. Obey U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary designated zones and follow their orders—they are out there to protect you.