Top 6 Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Causes of Boating Accidents

With the summer season approaching, more and more people are going to be taking advantage of the weather by taking their boats out for the first time this year, however, after a long break, many people set out without due care and attention, and that is when accidents can happen. In order to combat this, it is important to refresh your mind before you go out sailing, no matter how experienced you are. To ensure that you have trouble-free enjoyment of your boat this summer, we have summarized the top 6 most common causes of boating accidents, so if you want to learn more, read on!

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1. Alcohol

You wouldn’t take your car out for a spin after having a drink so why on earth would you take your boat out, a much larger and more difficult vehicle to maneuver, that will most likely have cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, you will be entertaining people as you cruise the lakes or seas, but that should only make you more aware of how important it is to maintain your sobriety as you have the lives of your guests in your hands. If you are in charge of a vessel, do not drink. Full stop. It is simply not worth putting lives at risk.

2. The Weather

Any experienced sailor should know that the weather can be your enemy, so it is of the utmost importance that you check the forecast before leaving shore and that you continue to check it during your voyage. Weather, as we all know, can change at the drop of the hat, so it is much better to be safer than sorry. If there is any chance of you running into a storm, do not leave the harbor, and if there is a sudden change in conditions, consider lowering your sail and motoring back to port to avoid any unforeseen accidents.

3. Rule Violations

Just as there are rules and regulations for driving on the roads, there are laws you must obey when you are in charge of a vessel, particularly when navigating rivers, lakes, or coastal waters. If you are not well-versed in these rules, experts from recommend that you acquaint yourself with the up-to-date regulations before you leave the shore to avoid an accident and particularly injury. If you see other sailors behaving in an erratic or unsafe manner, you should inform the authorities as soon as you can and document any infringements, in case they damage your vessel.

Causes of Boating Accidents - Sail Boats

4. Navigation Errors 

Navigation errors make up a huge number of accidents when sailing. It is often impossible to see what is lurking below the waters so having the correct charts with you and a knowledge of how to read them is vital if you want to avoid costly underwater bumps and scrapes. Worse still would be if you ran aground which could lead to costly repatriation from the coastguard, so brush up on your map skills before you head out to sea.

5. Mechanical Failure

You must ensure that your boat is ship-shape before you take it out, and this is especially important at the beginning of the season. Over winter, engines can seize up so have a mechanic give them the once over before departing. You should also make sure there are no issues with the hull and that if you are using a sailboat that the mast, rigging, and sails are all in good order. The last thing you want is a mechanical failure that could lead to a costly accident and a potential lawsuit.

6. Lack of Preparation

It is surprising how many people head out to the open sea completely unprepared for the situation, and it is no wonder that this often leads to accidents. Life vests are a bare minimum requirement, and you should also ensure you have flares to draw attention to yourselves if you’re in trouble and a first aid kit. Finally, make sure you have plenty of drinking water! The number of people that come back from boating trips with dehydration is on the rise because of this simple oversight.


As we have learned with these common causes of boating accidents, boating can be a hazardous activity if you don’t take appropriate precautions. Always be aware of weather conditions and don’t take your boat out unless it has been serviced. Never drink alcohol and obey all rules and regulations. Make sure you are stocked full of freshwater and emergency equipment and you will be prepared for every eventuality and can enjoy your well deserved relaxing downtime on the water.

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