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Celebrate Boating Season in Florida, but Alcohol and Water Don’t Mix


Warnings are everywhere about the dangers of drinking and driving, a major cause of catastrophic motor vehicle accidents that kill and maim thousands of Floridians. But far less is said about the lethal combination of alcohol and water . . . bodies of water, that is, as Floridians get their boats out of dry dock for summer sailing.

When you picture a typical boating adventure, what do you see? Fun-loving partygoers whose attention to the beer cooler is greater than attention to safety rules and access to life vests. What could be better than warm sun and a cold drink. What, me worry?

A National Transportation Safety Board study says that to impair your coordination and judgment, it takes only a third as much alcohol on water as it does on land. In other words, two beers on the boat equal a six-pack in the back yard.

While this may come as a surprise, it is no surprise that boating under the influence (is that BUI?) prompts the kind of imbalance and dizziness that could catapult you overboard, or cause you to confuse another boat’s running lights with the Big Dipper. Here’s the kicker: more than half of people killed in boating crashes were legally drunk.

Boating safety groups recommend that members of boating parties limit themselves to one drink per hour or less, and that the helmsman not drink at all. While this may put a damper on the traditional sport of drinking and boating, at least it guarantees that everyone will return to shore alive!

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