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Old 08-06-2014, 09:02 AM   #1
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Drinking and Boating

There have been a couple posts recently of fatal boating accidents where alcohol was involved. I have been on other forums and when the subject of drinking and boating comes up, many folks defend drinking while operating a boat. Some say that alcohol doesn't affect them, some say they know when they are impaired and some have actually claimed that they are a more careful boater when drinking. At any rate, enforcement of drinking and boating laws seems to be pretty lax in my area and at my marina on a busy weekend, the trash cans are full of beer cans.

I would like to see everyone's opinions on the subject of operating a boat while drinking.
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:11 AM   #2
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I would like to see everyone's opinions on the subject of operating a boat while drinking.
Mine is pretty simple. I don't do it. Period. A sundowner at anchor, but not while operating a boat.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:36 AM   #3
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Not while driving and very limited at anchor, you never know when you'll need all your wits at 2 am in a thunderstorm, or another boat crashing into yours!
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:39 AM   #4
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I never drink while running the boat (or prior to for that matter). I take my responsibilities seriously, as should all captains. Once we are safely tied up to the dock, hand me a beer!
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:45 AM   #5
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Another underway abstainer here- I see too many claims where booze is involved to want to be one of those statistics....

In port at a destination- is good. On the hook- minimal. I am a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and know I can't (nor want to) party like a rockstar.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:48 AM   #6
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Most of my boating has been for scuba diving, and compressed air, depths, and alcohol don't mix. So no drinking till you're in port. Take some friends fishing from time to time, and they drink .... so the cooler is empty enough for the fish to go into.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:49 AM   #7
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It's a very hotly debated topic with a lot of myths surrounding accidents and causal factors. A lot of info isn't released as agencies don't want it to look like a change of heart or encouragement that drinking is actually not as bad as the "social chance towards alcohol" of the last 20-30 years would have you believe.

Like many "rules" or "norms"...one size definitely doesn't fit all.

Every day people operate boats impaired. Whether they are fatigued, on prescription meds, emotionally distressed, preoccupied, older, etc..etc. Yet they still do and then get on a soapbox about others enjoying responsible drinking.

The bottom line is responsibility to yourself and others. Only you can make that call and it doesn't apply to anyone else.

Even just generalizing boating is ridiculous. Drinking a six pack while floaring around in a dingy in a 3 foot deep farmers pond with a fishing rod out isn't the same as piloting a SEAL TEAM insertion vessel in a combat situation....can't say for sure but that SEAL operator probably isn't drinking. There are many aspects of a particular persons style boating that aren't even remotely similar to another's.

So if you factor in all the risks associated with "boating" and "drinking"...the overlaps for many people and "other impairing contributors" is just about mind boggling.

I am on the "do things responsibly and with careful thought" side of the fence....not the "abstinence is the only solution" side of the fence.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:02 AM   #8
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Don't drink and drive - PERIOD! Don't drive if still drunk from beforehand - PERIOD Don't drive if impaired by outside sources of any type for any reason - PERIOD

There are the answers - What is the question??????

Caveat: Unless extraordinary, unexpected circumstances require you must take the wheel while still impaired... then we be super careful.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:03 AM   #9
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An interesting question arises here every 4th of July. People grab moorings well in advance of the fireworks and in some cases too close so the water cops force them to move.

Since they have been tied up for hours some may have been drinking and the question becomes what to do when the cops want you to move?
Do you tell them you cant because you have been drinking? then what happens??
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:08 AM   #10
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I seldom drink while operating a boat, maybe 1 or 2 beers. If I'am on a friends boat I may bring along a small cooler with 4 beers in it, I usually have 1 or 2 left when we get back after being out for 4 to 6 hours. I do not drink enough while operating my boat to be impaired and I don't drink much more if any in the afternoon or evening while docked. The enforcement here in this area of the UMR is nonexistent since the economy went to hell and the states cut money to different services. A case of leinenkugel summer shandy will last me over a month.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:17 AM   #11
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I am on the "do things responsibly and with careful thought" side of the fence....not the "abstinence is the only solution" side of the fence.
+1



I enjoy a beer or three on a stinking hot day, calm seas, and familiar waters while fishing or having a lazy cruise.
Its fairly rare for me to even see another boat once I'm a few miles from the marina so traffic is never an issue.

Rough seas, a busy harbour, changing weather, children on board, etc. is a different story. Weigh up the risks and act accordingly.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:54 AM   #12
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Another underway abstainer here- I see too many claims where booze is involved to want to be one of those statistics....

In port at a destination- is good. On the hook- minimal. I am a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, and know I can't (nor want to) party like a rockstar.
ditto.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:22 PM   #13
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Weigh the risks and act accordingly, pretty much covers how to handle anything AusCan. Lots of cops of all sorts out and about in their boats on the weekend We have a couple of bars only accessible by boat; with the sun, lots of booze, and wet t-shirt contests it can get a little dicey in the afternoon, thus all the cops. A DUI on a boat is just as bad and expensive as the same in a car. I limit my weekend cruising to early Sunday morning when all the drinkers are sleeping Saturday off.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:22 PM   #14
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:26 PM   #15
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I don't drink booze or smoke cigarettes anymore at all...that's why we can afford a boat
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:36 PM   #16
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Lots of valuable opinions here. I have but one question that I hope you all can clarify. If you do down a couple of brews while onboard and then have a need to anchor, what kind of anchor do you use?
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:38 PM   #17
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I personally don't drink at all while operating the boat or at anchor. I may have a beer at the dock. I do see however a LOT of people drinking far too much and then leaving the marina to go for a ride or a swim. Luckily, like some of the others, the boat traffic here is generally not too busy but it's not right and the LEOs are few and far between. Very hard to change old and bad habits.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:10 PM   #18
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Weigh the risks and act accordingly, pretty much covers how to handle anything AusCan. Lots of cops of all sorts out and about in their boats on the weekend We have a couple of bars only accessible by boat; with the sun, lots of booze, and wet t-shirt contests it can get a little dicey in the afternoon, thus all the cops. A DUI on a boat is just as bad and expensive as the same in a car. I limit my weekend cruising to early Sunday morning when all the drinkers are sleeping Saturday off.
GC - Exactly - Weighing up the risks and acting accordingly does cover everything. The risks in my day to day life vary wildy and so do my actions.

If I was boating in your area, I would weigh up the risks and may take the same actions as you.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:13 PM   #19
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There's a HUGE difference between drinking and being legally DUI (BUI) or drunk...

I know guys who never drink on their boat but will drink the better part of a bottle of wine at dinner and drive home.

Probably because it's all about comfort level.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:44 PM   #20
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I would like to see everyone's opinions on the subject of operating a boat while drinking.
I don't drink before or while I'm operating an airplane. I don't drink before or while I'm operating a car. I don't drink before or while I am working for my employer. And neither I nor my wife drink before or while we are operating a boat.

Three of the four activities described above are governed by laws, regulations, or policies. But regardless of the laws or policies, I believe that doing anything to impair one's judgment puts not only the operator at risk, but far more important, it puts everyone around them at risk.

I frankly don't know if there are laws on the books in this state governing drinking and operating a boat. I know that the marine divisions of the police departments in the communities surrounding lakes Washington and Union make a fair number of newsworthy arrests of boaters who are operating under the influence. But whether they are enforcing laws aimed strictly at boaters or are using more general laws aimed at reckless endangerment is something I don't know.

We were out on the boat in the islands this past Friday through Sunday which also happened to be Seafair weekend with the hydroplane races on Lake Washington down in Seattle. While we could hear only one side of the conversations, even the USCG was occasionally involved in dealing with incidents involving intoxicated boaters in the Seattle area, some on the lake.

I think peoples' claims that their judgement and abilities are not impaired by alcohol or any other "feel good" substance are self-delusional. There have been countless studies over decades proving otherwise. Even so-called multi-tasking, driving a car while talking on a phone, for example, has been shown to greatly reduce an individual's ability to function safely. We've all seen the videos that demonstrate this.

We allow guests on board to drink wine or beer while the boat is underway if they want to. However, virtually none of our guests have ever wanted to. They, too, realize the affects even a single beer or glass of wine can have, particularly on a rolling, pitching boat, and they have stated that they had no interest in consuming anything alcoholic until after the boat had reached its destination.
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