Spring is coming! With it comes the opening of boating season, and boaters everywhere are doing their spring commissioning.
What a lot of boaters may not know is that one of the most effective steps for safer boating is also the easiest: make sure your charts are up to date. After all, the best electronics and the most complete set of paper charts can be downright dangerous if they¹re out of date. Shoals move, channels change and new structures are built. If your charts are out of date, they can give you a false sense of security and even navigate you directly into trouble. Some boaters think that doesn’t happen very often, but the numbers tell a different story:
- The U.S. Coast Guard reported $7.1 million in damages and 81 deaths in 2011 from boating collisions with fixed, floating or submerged objects. In fact, that was a leading cause of accidents, second only to non-fuel fires or explosions.
- In a recent survey by the Alliance for Safe Navigation, 25% of respondents had experienced a grounding within the last five years, with repair costs running as high as $10,000.
To help boaters update their paper and electronic charts, the Alliance for Safe Navigation provides a resource tool for boaters to use in their spring commissioning. It offers direction on how to update electronic and paper charts, and it also provides links to boat safety courses, a safety checklist and vessel exams. You can find the tool online at www.allianceforsafenavigation.org.