Nighttime boat parades with festive lights and innovative boat and yacht displays may be one of the most enjoyable and memorable holiday traditions, whether you’re a spectator or a participant. From San Francisco’s iconic Fisherman’s Wharf Holiday Lights & Sights Boat Parade to Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Winterfest Boat Parade, cities, and towns around the country fill the skies with dazzling Christmas-themed, floating showstoppers. Spectators can identify locally accessible parade venues and viewing hours by conducting a simple online search.
Evening boat cruises in the colder winter months, on the other hand, necessitate additional safety precautions for parade participants. The Water Sports Foundation advises boaters to plan ahead of time in order to be safe when participating in holiday boat parades by following these six safety precautions.
Wear Your Life Jacket Like Santa Claus! Drowning was the cause of death in 79% of fatal boating incidents where the cause of death was known; 86% of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. Because parade participants are frequently actively engaged in onboard movement and dance step routines, it is critical to be well equipped and well fitted for safety. Boaters should all wear life jackets that are authorized by the US Coast Guard and are sized to fit: Water Sports Foundation – Choosing the Right Life Jacket. The good news is that there are numerous appealing fashions and more streamlined designs for boating activities currently available, including new lightweight inflatables. Check your state’s laws for rules governing the use of life jackets and the minimum age for children: Life Jacket Requirements by State and Age, according to the NASBLA.
Prepare yourselves! Ensure that all necessary marine safety equipment is available, working, and conveniently accessible. While you may already have signaling devices in your kit pack, consider a compact, waterproof clip-on strobe light available at most maritime stores that may be connected to your life jacket for added visibility if needed. Always keep a VHF radio on hand and understand how to operate it.
Put on a spectacular outfit. Choose appropriate clothing for local weather conditions and be prepared if conditions change. Consider using high-tech textiles to keep you warm and dry. Remember that children lose body heat at a faster rate than adults, so include additional layers of clothes in a waterproof dry bag, as well as towels and blankets in case they are required.
Always appoint a sober captain. When it comes to Christmas happiness, boaters must be particularly cautious and realize the significant hazards and repercussions of drinking and driving, which is exacerbated when navigating at night. Boaters should avoid being impaired, according to the Water Sports Foundation. If parade organizers permit alcohol, each boat should appoint a sober driver, a skilled and experienced captain who promises not to imbibe while running the boats. Crew should be advised to avoid or, at the very least, limit their alcohol use in order to have their wits about them when onboard and underway.
Learn the Parade Route Ahead of Time. The majority of boat parade organizers give a procession route map. Examine the dock area as well as the route, and if feasible, run your boat through the course in daylight to notice any impediments or hurdles that may be difficult to see in low light.
Make sure your batteries are charged. Holiday boat parades imply bright lights, music, and a lot of potential battery depletion. Check that your boat batteries are completely charged and capable of managing the additional power demand caused by extras such as lights and audio. Consider adopting LED decorative lights, which consume less electricity, or a lithium-ion battery that is separate from your engine starting battery.
“We love holiday boat parades…they historically are great fun and extremely popular in boating communities across the nation,” said Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons. “By ensuring all your safety gear is aboard and in working order and adhering to a few simple boating safety practices, participants can maximize their boating fun and enjoy a great tradition with family and friends.”
*Featured image from Tampa Bay Times – Boats light up the night during the annual St. Pete Beach Holiday Boat Parade in 2014.