By Maddy Hansen
With summer heat slowly rising every year, a lot of people go looking for a summer get-away; a place to cool down and make memories. Whether it’s with family or as tourists, a great way to beat the summer heat, by popular demand, is by boat! A fun trip with the ocean breeze in your hair and the water as cool as the day is long, boating can be a hit for this summer.
Restrictions on Boating
Before the state of Florida gives just anybody a boat, they need to understand the regulations that come with the open waters. Starting with age, no one under the age of 14 can operate a boat, even if they carry a Florida Boating Safety Education I.D. card. This card can be issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission acknowledging a licensed Florida boat driver. Continuing with age, no one under the age of 18 may rent or lease a boat. Anyone knowingly allowing minors to rent, lease, or drive a watercraft can be convicted.
When driving a boat on open water is it required that a Boater Education Card/ Florida Boating Safety Education I.D., along with state I.D., be carried at all times for inspections by an enforcement officer. Failing to follow these regulations can result in fines and penalties.
The Florida open waters are a lot different than what you might expect from other bodies of water like lakes. The waves and currents affect how the boat moves in the water. A good safety tip for boating in open waters is to take a boating class. Taking a boating class would be beneficial in any situation, and it’s quick, taking only a day to complete either online or in-person.
Another tip would be to check over your boat. Make sure you have everything you need and that your boat is in good shape. The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free boat examinations. These examinations can be what keep you from experiencing a dangerous situation on the open water.
Another important tip is be weather-wise and use common sense. A bad storm coming in can cause a high tide or even push your boat further out into the ocean. Owning and operating a boat is a privilege that can turn life-threatening if the driver isn’t using common sense. Driving faster than you are supposed to can result in injury of those on board and others out at bay, so try to stay clear of any inhibiting substances and follow the rules of the waves.
Florida is a huge coastal state, attracting thousands of people each year for its hot rays and cool waters. If boating is your pen and the waters your paper, consider traveling to some of Florida’s must-see waterways.
Starting with St. Augustine, the St. Johns River is a gateway to Jacksonville and the state’s major interior waterway. From supply ships to first-class marinas, this Atlantic Coast brings hundreds of boaters from all over the coasts to see world-class fishing and five-star restaurants. For history lovers, St. Augustine is also the nation’s oldest city and first seaport. A relaxing float down the coast might be what you need this summer.
Another popular destination is the Tampa/ St. Petersburg area. A quick float between the two cities shows some of the finest restaurants and best-hidden bays the area has to offer. Down one of these hidden bays are the ruins of a 19th Century army fort. Some of the best sightseeing is done on these waters and is known for being some of the best floating waters in Florida.
Whether it’s just you and the open waters or a whole group of people, Florida has always been welcoming to those with a passion for boating. It is important to remember to be safe and plan these trips ahead of time, but to have fun and make memories. Most importantly, remember to beat the summer heat and jump in the waters at least once!