FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- With air and water temperatures steadily rising, there is no better place for Fairfield County residents to enjoy their 4th of July celebrations than on the water. But with power boats, jet skis, sailboats, kayaks, paddle boards and more, spending a day out on Long Island Sound or Candlewood Lake can seem more like a drive on I-95 than a relaxing escape on a holiday weekend.
To ensure the safety of all on board, captains should brush up on proper seamanship before hitting the high seas. You should be familiar with vessel right of way, recommended operating speed, correct use aids to navigation, and proper anchoring and mooring techniques, as well as have a rough understanding of local waters. Nothing can turn an outing south quicker than running aground, knocking into a docked vessel, or drifting off an anchorage.
Even more so than on dry land, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Changes in depth spring up suddenly and other vessels approach from 360 degrees, making clear thinking a necessity. Be sure to drink responsibly after leaving port. Fireworks and sparklers should also be left ashore; handling an open flame while surrounded by gas, oil, and fuel vapor is a recipe for disaster.
It is also impossible to overstate the necessity of practicing proper seamanship. Watching boats repeatedly throttle through no-wake zones, dangerously overtake slower vessels, and carelessly anchor is enough to make even the most salt-blooded captain spend the holiday weekend ashore. Both the Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer online tutorials to help captains brush up on simple rules of the road before heading out.
The Sound's main draw is the incredible views it offers: boaters can watch fireworks in Manhattan, Westchester, Long Island, and Connecticut by simply turning their heads. When anchoring among a crowd, let out ample anchor line to ensure the anchor catches. Also remember to leave a swing radius large enough to avoid hitting other anchored boats, should the wind shift.
Before packing the cooler and casting off this weekend, following a few simple rules and using common sense can maximize fun on the water. Your crew, guests, and other boaters will be thankful you did!
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