Unfortunately, three fatal boating accidents occurred off the coast of California in recent weeks. All three accidents occurred during boat races.
First, on March 31, crew members from an Australian yacht on an around-the-world race were injured when a huge wave struck their ship. Fortunately, that accident involved no fatalities. Then, on March 14, strong waves hit a yacht that was racing near the Farallon Islands, killing five. Last weekend, four crew members are believed to have been killed when their boat disappeared on a race between Newport Beach and Ensenada, Mexico. The boat is believed to have collided which a much larger vessel.
Despite these well-publicized accidents, ocean boating in the Pacific is relatively safe. In 2010, there were only six accidents involving boats on the Pacific near the coast, and there was only one fatality. One reason may be that individuals who choose to take boats out on the ocean are more likely to take safety courses. Those accidents that do occur usually involve alcohol, rough seas or inattention by the driver.
If you plan on taking a boat out in the Pacific this summer, either your own boat or a charter boat, there are some steps you can take to stay safe. First, keep in mind your boat needs to be large enough to be considered safe on the ocean. The necessary size is dependent on where exactly you are taking the boat and the weather that day. Check your lights for safe operation, particularly if you will be boating after dark.
You should also always wear your life jacket, and keep basic safety items on hand like food and water, a tool kit, extra fuel, a life raft, a compass and a radio. Finally, make sure your boat’s driver is experienced at ocean boating, and that he or she stays focused on driving. I’m a big fan of checklists. Here is a boating pre-departure checklist you may find useful.
Boating in the Pacific can be an incredible experience, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Before you go, make sure you’ve taken all necessary safety precautions. If you’ve been injured as a result of a boat accident, contact Donald Sjaarda, California boating accident attorney at 714-963-8216.