top of page
  • oasismarinas

Boater Safety Tips on the Water

The Neuse River can make for a great launching point for all of your North Carolina boating adventures. Still, regardless of whether you are heading out for a day of fishing, taking a leisurely cruise to West Bay, or preparing for a day of watersports, boater safety should always be your top priority.

Maintaining safety on board your vessel requires the right combination of gear, know-how, and level-headedness. With that in mind, here are some boater safety tips that will help you respond to an emergency on the water.

Boater Safety Gear Must-Haves

At a minimum, you’ll need the following gear to keep yourself and your passengers safe:

  • Life Jackets: You need to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board

  • Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs): These devices send a distress signal with your location to rescue services 

  • VHF Radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC): Can also send distress signals at the tap of a button

  • First Aid Kit: Include comprehensive medical supplies

  • Fire Extinguishers: Ensure these are easily accessible

  • Flares: Understand the proper use for day and night emergencies 

  • Waterproof Flashlight: A must-have for any after-dark emergency

  • Manual Water Pump: Having a manual way to remove water in case of ingress is crucial 

  • Navigation Tools: Backup GPS devices, charts, and a compass

  • Emergency Rations and Water: Store enough food and water to last for several days

Having the right gear on board is a solid starting point, but making sure that everyone knows how to use these devices and equipment is equally (if not more) important. You’ll also need to make sure that each of these is in good working order and (in the case of food) not expired. 

How and When to Use Emergency Devices 

For the most part, determining when to use safety gear boils down to trusting your instincts and experience. Nevertheless, more advanced equipment should only be deployed in specific circumstances.

For instance, you should activate an EPIRB immediately in any life-threatening situation, such as a sinking ship or a severe medical emergency.  The sooner you activate your EPIRB, the sooner help will arrive. 

You can use your VHF radio with DSC in a wider range of circumstances. It’s a great tool for emitting mayday calls, but you can also use it for more routine actions, like receiving weather updates. 

Flares are another essential tool that you need to know how and when to use. They are invaluable for signaling your position to nearby vessels or rescue services, especially between dusk and dawn. 

Who to Call in an Emergency

Keep a list of emergency contacts, including the Northwest Creek Marina, harbors, and the Coast Guard. Make sure all crew members know where the list is and how to use it to contact help. 

If you are facing an immediate life-threatening situation, contact the Coast Guard using your VHF radio. Use channel 16 for distress calls. You may be asked to switch to channel 22A, but it is normally restricted for Coast Guard use only, so don’t transfer to it unless explicitly instructed to do so.

If you have a less urgent issue, contact a local marine assistance provider like Sea Tow or TowBoatUS. These private companies can help you with boat breakdowns and other non-emergency issues. 

Preparation Is Key

Don’t wait until you are in the midst of a crisis to consider what you should do or how to respond. Run through worst-case scenarios in your head, practice with your gear, and conduct emergency drills with your crew. 

That said, though it may be tempting, don’t feel like you need to handle all of the important jobs yourself, especially during drills. Give other people a chance to do things, like grabbing the first aid kit, activating the EPIRB, and so on. You never know what sort of emergency you’ll face or if you will be able to perform these tasks, so it’s wise to train at least one other person on board to complete critical activities in an emergency. 

Need to Restock on Essential Gear? Come See Us

Northwest Creek Marina is the perfect place to lay anchor, fuel up, and get some rest before you head back out on the water. Our on-site shop, Marker 19, has all of the basic amenities you need for your North Carolina boating excursion, including first aid supplies, ice, snacks, water, and more. Contact our team and reserve your slip today.

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page