Boating is Texas is alive and well, with thousands flocking to popular beaches, bays, rivers and lakes for some world-class fishing or scenic cruising in the Lone Star State. If you’re a local or simply visiting Texas for a bit of leisure time, make sure you know these quick takeaways before hitting the water. From age requirements to education courses, these must-learn facts can help you chart your course before heading into unknown waters.
5 Considerations Before Boating in Texas
- Who to call during a boating accident? If you are involved in a boating accident that results in injury (requiring treatment beyond first aid) or death, or causes damages to property in excess of $2,000, you must report it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). You only have 48 hours to report an accident resulting in a fatality, but 30 days to report less serious accidents.
- Where can I complete my boating education? To legally operate a boat or PWC with more than 15 hp, you must first complete a boater education course, unless you were born before September 1, 1993.
- Can I drink while operating a boat? Open container laws do not apply to watercraft. However, operating a boat while intoxicated is a crime that could result in a driver license suspension, fines, or even jail time if involved in an accident while intoxicated.
- What identification do I need to carry while boating? Boaters must carry a picture identification card, as well as a boater certification card (if applicable).
- What’s the minimum age requirements for boating? Though boating in Texas can be fun for all ages, operators of vessels with more than 15 hp must be at least 13 years old. The same applies for windblown vessels of more than 14 feet.
The TPWD is a fantastic source of info for first-time boaters in Texas, so we highly suggest starting your research there if you have any questions about your next boating adventure. Texas is known as a big state, but also one that’s full of variety. Take advantage of that variety by exploring all the beautiful state has to offer, both on and off the water.
Boating is a treasured pastime that many boating and fishing enthusiasts around the globe enjoy passing on to the next generation. There is nothing quite like sharing the experience of being on the water with your family and, hopefully, inspiring them to share this passion with their family someday. Though boating is a perfect family outing activity, it is not one without risks that you need to consider in order to keep your kids safe. For that reason, we compiled a list of helpful boating safety tips for kids that can help make your day on the water as safe as possible for the little ones.
Boating Safety Tips for Kids
- Life Jackets Save Lives: We have recommended them before but this is a point worth repeating: you must have enough life jackets onboard for everyone. Before hitting the water, have your child try on the life jacket to ensure that it fits correctly, then enforce the use of it while on your trip.
- Swimming = Safety: Get your kids comfortable with swimming by enrolling them in swimming classes. It is also essential to teach them the dangers of swimming in open waters versus swimming pools. Many kids don’t know the dangers of currents, waves and weather — all factors that can be big dangers to both children and adults.
- Never Out of Sight: Even when stationary, keeping an eye on your kids should be a top priority, as waves, wind or even just the rocking of the vessel can easily send an unsuspecting child overboard.
- Do Your Due Diligence: Don’t skimp on the safety basics that you should be practicing as a responsible boater. Keep up-to-date on maintenance, install carbon monoxide sensors and always ensure that your boat is equipped with enough fire extinguishers. This, with performing regular fire drills, can protect your family while on the water.
As you probably realize, many of these aren’t just boating safety tips for kids, but lessons we can all take with us while on the water. Just remember, preparation is a major key to boating safety. Take the time to purchase and install the right equipment, practice good safety habits and keep an eye on your little ones whenever enjoying a day of boating. We have a responsibility to the next generation of boaters to ensure that they learn how to enjoy our pastime the right way — with safety always in mind.
After tossing a back a few beverages at your favorite watering hole, the Friday-night luster has finally faded and you’re about ready to head home for some much-needed rest. You wish your clique of close companions a good night, and then; Therein lies the point in which you make the choice between responsibility and carelessness, safety and danger. The decision to drink and drive is a selfish one, as it needlessly puts the safety of yourself and countless others at risk.
Though we know that drinking and driving can lead to deadly results, why do so many not find a problem with drinking and boating? Before you cast off, consider the following:
- Just like drinking and driving, boating under the influence (BUI) is against the law. If you test at or higher than a .08 while operating a vessel, you are over the legal limit.
- Though open containers may be permissible in open water, in many private waters you may be ticketed if open alcohol containers are not allowed within that property.
- Being convicted of BUI is a serious offense. First convictions can see you paying up to $1,000 in fines and spending six months in jail. Penalties only worsen from there, as you could face up to 12 months of imprisonment after your third conviction.
Hi-Tide Boat Lifts is all about enjoying and sharing the excitement of boating with friends and loved ones, but always responsibly. If you understand the dangers involved with drinking and driving, remember that alcohol mixes just as dangerously when on the water. Assign a designated vessel operator or save the drinks for when you’re back on land. Stay safe and get boating!