The whole family can enjoy boating, but trying to teach your kids about boating rules and proper life jacket use could be met with complaints. Young boaters still need to know the nitty-gritty, regardless of how ‘boring’ it may seem to them. To help parents out, Natal Power Boats have put together some pointers for teaching kids the basics of boating.
Before getting on the water, go over all of the boat rules, and remember, life jackets are a must. All children should wear a properly fitted, approved lifejacket. Water wings and other swimming aids should not be used in place of a lifejacket, and do not need to be used with a life jacket – the jacket itself will suffice. Show the kids the emergency whistle if applicable so they know how to get your attention in an emergency.
Kids learn best by following the leader, so remember to follow the rules yourself! You’ll never convince them to wear a life jacket if they feel it’s a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” So, wear your own. Being the example applies to how you behave in every aspect on the boat, kids will learn boating by watching you.
Keep hands and feet in the boat at all time and no running on the boat. Stay away from the motor and propeller. Even at rest, a boat propeller can cut a foot or leg. Kids must be taught to respect the hardware and understand that their safety is of utmost importance.
Teach your kids to become familiar with boating terminology: knots refer to the speed of the boat. One knot is one nautical mile per hour, which is 1,852km. The bow is the front section of the boat, and the aft or stern is the rear. The port side of a boat is the left side, while starboard refers to the right side of it. Other important terms include the helm, which refers to the steering system, the hull is the body of the boat, and a chart is the term for a map that a navigator might use.
Teach kids that it is the responsibility of every boat operator to navigate in a reasonable and prudent manner to avoid a collision, taking into account the weather, vessel traffic and the limits of other vessels. To be safe and respectful, we must also take accountability for our actions.
Teach kids, by showing them, safe speed, which is the speed that ensures you will have sufficient time to avoid accidents and can stop safely and swiftly if needs be. Kids usually struggle with impulse control and an instinctive desire to go fast – show them the safest way to conduct oneself on the boat.
This is one the kids love to help with. Failing to keep a sharp lookout is the most common cause of problems. Every operator must keep a proper lookout at all times. Watch and listen for other vessels, radio communications, navigational hazards, weather changes and others involved in water activities.
To ensure an enjoyable experience on the water and reduce the risk of dangerous situations arising, it is essential that newcomers educate themselves about some of the important aspects associated with riding or operating a boat, explaining safe boating protocol and basic navigation principles that stay with them forever. Contact us for more boating advice and to find the boat that will suit the needs of your family.