printed 06/28/2019

The “Ride Inside” campaign being promoted by the state Department of Natural Resources is not one of those public service undertakings that falls in the “it’s a nice thing to do” category.

It’s serious, and anyone who’s spent time on the water along the coast in the heavy boat traffic of summer can relate scores of instances when people were hanging all over an overloaded vessel without any regard for what could happen.

The problem with boating, unfortunately, is that many operators and passengers don’t realize how dangerous it can be.

For instance, a parent would not let a child dangle his or her feet outside the car window, or allow him or her to climb on the hood for a better view. This is even though the surface of the highway is flat, smooth and not subject to currents, wind, wakes and shoals.

Yet, the bay, which is subject to the influences of all these things, and can therefore change from nice to nasty without warning, is where far too many people think it’s perfectly acceptable to suspend common sense because it is somehow less dangerous.

With the increase in boat traffic over the years, the bays are becoming more congested, which adds another risk to this summertime pursuit. Boating is no longer just about minding your own business, as it was many years ago, now it involves minding the business of all the other boats and personal watercraft in the area.

Sure, having to maintain that level of awareness does take some of the relaxation and fun out of boating, but it’s the only way to prevent bad and even tragic things from happening.

So take the cue from the DNR. Be mindful of nearby watercraft, be careful, and be inside the boat. And, as far as navigating these shallow bays, the best advice to anyone at the helm, is to go slow if you don’t know.

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