I Learned About Boating From This: Maintain Visibility With Proper Crew Placement


Crowded boat
Educating your crew on the importance of visibility keeps everyone safe. Tim Bower

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A tragic, fatal boating accident occurred in the Florida Keys last fall aboard an open boat skippered by a parent and crewed by teens and 20-somethings. That accident prompted this story, not because I believe the events of that sad day match what you are about to read. Rather, the accident hit home for me because it occurred aboard an open boat with a crew of young people aboard.

You see, I too own a center-console boat. And I too often host a crowd of my daughters’ friends aboard. These kids are great. I love boating with them, but they do spark a pet peeve of mine. In fact, this peeve sparks most times I have a crowd aboard: Everyone wants to stand in the front.

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I get it. It’s the best place for them all to hang together in selfie-swapping, TikTok-making glory. It’s the best place to see the whale breaching or the pod of dolphins ahead of us. It’s where everyone wants to be while docking, usually to help (and sometimes to be the first to run into the house and hit the head). You get it, right? It’s natural.

But I can’t see with a bunch of people standing in the bow. So, I need to coach and coax them to sit down, step aside and move aft. More times than not, my girls—both salty as a pretzel—are good at cluing in newbies. But one way or another, they gotta move. If the skipper can’t see, tragedy may result.

Make sure your crew doesn’t block your view.

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