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Protect your boaters with Fourth of July boater safety tips

Jun 27, 2023 | Marina Management

4th of July boater safety

Let’s start with the morbid: 

The U.S. Coast Guard released their annual recreational boater statistics report on June 1st that detailed 2022’s boater safety. They reported that in 2022 the U.S. had 636 boating fatalities. The month with the most fatalities? July, with 108. Of all the 4,040 reported boating accidents in 2022, 1,066 (26.4%) were attributed to “operator inattention” or “operator inexperience.” Those are the kinds of numbers that prompt one to ponder…

As a marina manager, what can I do about boater safety? 

Here are a few basic boater safety guidelines that will help ensure your clients have a safe holiday with a greater sense of security in calling your marina their home on the water.

Boater communication

You may confirm reservations with your tenants via phone, text, or the old-fashioned way when they come directly into your shop. However it’s done, a manager has an opportunity to establish a tone for the weekend with some simple communication upon check-in.

• Vessel checks

Ask if they’ve completed a vessel check. On the Fourth, boaters will be out past dark – a cursory vessel check before they leave out for the day can prevent coming back with a busted navigation light or faulty battery. The Coast Guard provides a series of free boater resources that include a vessel systems checklist, an equipment checklist, and a pre-departure checklist. It takes 15 minutes and some ink to provide free helpful copies for your boaters.

Almost 40% of boater accidents in 2022 occurred between 10:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. and you can help them feel secure in staying out late by sending out a secure watercraft.

• Lifejacket check

You’d think this was common knowledge, but life jackets are like turn signals – not everyone knows how to use one. With thousands of newly registered boaters each year, it always helps to provide a friendly reminder that your tenants should leave shore with enough jackets for everyone – even the dog.

dog wearing a lifejacket

• Weather check and a float plan

We’ve seen marinas that will go with an almost rustic, endearing messaging system – setting up a chalkboard and scrawling out the weather and tides for the day. Yeah, many boaters will have advanced electronics systems in their dashboard, but offering simple information for your boaters shows that you care and you are the waterfront authority. 

Consider asking your tenants if they want to leave a float plan with you at the counter. This should include a time of return, vessel description, and where they’re going.

Keep an eye out

The core of the “keep your eye out” mantra is this: watch out for the tipsy skipper. 

Regardless of morbid safety statistics, the beers will be cracking open on the water this weekend. Every boat needs a sober skipper. One way to give your tenants some preventative knowledge is to speak in person or post on social media about Operation Dry Water. This is the local, state, and federal government’s efforts fostered by the U.S. Coast Guard to increase boater safety on the Fourth of July weekend. In Operation Dry Water 2022, boater safety officers made 794 BUI arrests and issued almost 12,000 citations. 

The other boater to keep an eye out for – the confused boater. It can be helpful to staff extra help to have someone designated as a marina floater for the weekend. They can help with water travel routes, where to fuel up, and who to call in an emergency.

Make your marina signage look like a high school kid’s locker

Sticker your marina up. There’s no such thing as too much safety messaging. Common signage includes the “no swimming” areas, “slow, no wake” zones, “life jackets required”, and caution signs for submerged objects. The most utilized signage will be the first-aid kit location: make sure it’s properly marked and stocked for the boater boo boos sure to pop up this weekend.

boater safety - first aid kit

Physical safety also means pairing it with the psychological well-being of your guests. Maintain a low-stress atmosphere with properly located buoy markers, clearly demarcated emergency contact numbers, and even a signboard on-premise that shows a map of your facilities.

Post your safety tips on social media!

Besides common sense safety, this is a simple and effective way to give your marina pre-weekend social visibility. Canva is a marina manager’s best friend for social media boater safety tips. Make a nice little 4×6 flyer and create a post with life jacket reminders, locations for basic amenities, and what boaters can do during a weather event or watercraft failure.

Lastly…enjoy the weekend.

Bottle rockets pheernt-pop! from down the shoreline. Thickly lathered barbecue wafts across the water and teases your nostrils. Engines rumble and roar out to catch a breeze and some salt spray. You see customers you haven’t seen in months that have now become friends. 

It’s one of the most memorable weekends of the year – help your boaters go into it feeling safe. 

Hammer and Nail Marketing


Hammer and Nail Marketing is a boutique marketing firm that helps small to mid-sized marinas get noticed by boaters. If you’d like to focus on operating your marina without the additional responsibility of marketing, get in touch with us.

We’re boaters ourselves from a background of operating a family-run marina. From a group of experts who know the water, let Hammer and Nail Marketing help you be the waterfront your local boaters see every time they cast off.


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