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BOATsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Responsible Boat Operation

The Effects of Drinking Alcohol and/or Using Drugs While Operating a Boat

Being on the water and in the sun all day feels great, but it can be physically draining. If you’ve been operating the boat in the sun and have been sweating, you may also be dehydrated. Consuming alcohol under these circumstances will greatly increase the level of danger because alcohol acts as a stressor. This means that alcohol will increase the effect of other conditions related to being outside (like sun, motion, glare, wind and fatigue) and will seriously impair your judgment and competency as a boat operator.

You can enjoy a day of boating without alcohol. Always pack cold, non-alcoholic beverages like soda or lemonade, to refresh yourself and your passengers with and to help deter those on board from consuming alcohol.

Note: Your boat passengers should wear their lifejackets at all times—especially if they’ve been drinking. Additionally, if anyone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol they should NEVER participate in towed sports activities because alcohol will slow down their swallowing and breathing reflexes. This means the intoxicated person will be more likely to drown if they wipe out while being towed.

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