At DrinkingAndDriving.Org, we also want you to avoid BUI. No, that is not a typo. BUI stands for Boating Under the Influence.
This is another scary situation to get yourself into and also one that most people do not think about. How many of us have been out in the sun with friends, boating or just hanging out? It is very easy to drink too much just trying to cool off.
Imagine operating a boat in the sun, wind and waves normally. The boat operator needs to be on top of things. Add some drinks to this mix and it could get ugly. Boaters have the additional hazard of falling overboard as well. Most people do not go out on a boat daily, as you would in a car, so the inexperience of the boat operator can come into play also.
Navigating and knowing where you are is crucial. If you are out on the water, you do not have the option of pulling over to get help or to just stop. You’re committed until you reach your docking point. If any of you have tried to maneuver a boat into a slip, I doubt you want to try it under the influence!! There is not much room for error and you have to watch out for small dinghies and sometimes swimmers.
When boating, drinking alcohol can impair your reflexes, limit your ability to distinguish certain colors, impact your balance, and inhibit both your judgment and your common sense.
Life jackets anyone?? Most alcohol related deaths in the water occur from falling overboard or capsizing! This could ruin your day and those who are with you. Even cruise ships have had people fall overboard. No boat is big enough or safe enough!
It is important to also remember that when you drink, the first symptom you feel is body warmth. If you fall in the water, hypothermia can set in before you realize it. In a couple hundred of the deaths from BUI incidents each year are due to hypothermia.
If the Coast Guard gets involved there can be large fines, your boat will be impounded and depending on where you are in the water, the Federal Government could be involved. That could earn you prison time, instead of jail. Yikes!
So, let’s talk about planning. If you know you will be out drinking, the best bet is to limit the alcohol and make sure the boat operator is sticking to soda or water. Know where you are going, how long you will be out and make sure more than one person is able to operate the boat and knows how to get home. Plan a trip with no drinking and when you get back to land have a picnic or meet at a restaurant. Be sure you have a designated driver on land too!
For more boating and safety tips visit the Coast Guard website at uscgboating.org