The safety of your children is of paramount importance when spending quality time on the water this festive season

Peak season boating is about enjoying precious leisure time with family and friends on the water, particularly with your children. Sometimes though the water can be busy and dangerous, so from the outset it’s imperative to fully involve all children in the overall boating experience.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)/ Life Jackets: Put them on the children before they even get on the boat, and take them off only when they’re back on land. To motivate them to wear life jackets, bring them into our shop so they can choose one which is to their liking. Another major motivator for them to wear life jackets is if all the adults wear life jackets at all times when on the boat as well.

Sunblock and Hat: Never underestimate the power of the sun and the reflecting UV rays when you’re on the water, even when it’s cloudy. Ensure that all children have hats to wear and that all exposed skin is covered with a layer of sunblock. Whatever the sunblock bottle proudly states, be sure to re-apply once the children return to the boat having ventured into the water.

Store Everything: Once on board make sure that all gear is safely stored away, so that the children can’t tread on loose items, particularly fishing hooks, or trip over ropes and bags. Often a sharp gust of wind can throw items up into the air that could potentially strike a child, so secure and pack away everything.

Skipper Briefing: It’s important that the Skipper, generally Mum or Dad, give a short briefing to the children. This will clearly establish the chain of command in that they must follow her or his instructions at all times, that they must stay seated the whole time that the boat is moving, and that they must stay in their allocated seat and not sit anywhere else on the boat when underway. How many times have you seen a gaggle of kids sitting on the bow of a boat with their feet hanging over the front, sometimes playing in the spray. One slip and the consequences can be very tragic. At all times, even when properly seated it’s always ‘one hand for themselves, one for the boat’.

Involve the children with the trip: On each trip make one of the children your No.2, giving him or her responsibilities to watch over the other children. Explain to everyone where you’re heading and if you have a depth finder and/ or GPS, get one of them to keep the others informed of what’s happening.

Watersports: Whenever the kids are waterskiing, wakeboarding or tubing, you must appoint someone to be the ‘watcher’ for those on or in the water, preferably an adult who in turn will also liaise with the skipper on what is needed. What’s more all those in the water should be taught basic hand signals from ‘Go’, ‘Go Slower’, ‘Go Quicker’, and ‘Stop’, otherwise communications will be ambiguous.

Following these basic safety tips will ensure that you and your family spend many happy and fun-filled hours on the water. All at Knysna Yamaha wish everyone a safe boating season.