One of the best times of year for boaters has always been the 4th of July. There’s nothing quite like boarding your vessel, having a relaxing day, and celebrating our nation with some of your closest friends and family.
No matter the size of your boat, you can have an exciting Independence Day with great food, fireworks, and family fun. By observing a few basic practices, you can have a relaxing day free of injury or worry. So, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to celebrate the 4th on your boat.
The Perfect Location
Finding a great place to dock or anchor is the first step to enjoying your boating experience on this 4th of July. If you have a regular boat dock or boat slip near a port or marina, check with the owners to see if they are planning a celebration this 4th. This may be the perfect place to enjoy your day and evening aboard.
Remember that many boating areas draw large crowds during the 4th of July celebrations, so if you plan on enjoying a nice sail before the festivities, getting there ahead of time is recommended. During this time, you can relax with your favorite playlist, have a barbecue, or perhaps participate in a local boat parade.
With about a 40 minute drive from San Diego, you can take part in some July 4th festivities, including carnivals and boat parades that are located in Oceanside and San Marcos.
Once you find a great spot to enjoy the day, you might go sailing, have a barbecue, listen to some music, and have fun with the family. Be aware of other boats around you and spend the day enjoying the water.
Enjoying the Fireworks
All over the country, Independence Day will spark several firework events, many of those over water. In addition, many areas will be a hot spot for celebrations and festivals, so you’re sure to find something to pique your interests.
If you’re in the area, check out the Big Bay Boom event, the largest firework show in Southern California. This event takes place from 9:00 to 10:00 at night in several different ports and marinas. You can also participate in events such as the fireworks shows at Old Town, Ellen Browning Scripps Park, and Ocean Beach Pier.
Safely Having Fun on the Water
While enjoying the fun and festivities that come along with the 4th of July, we must take a few precautions to remain safe this holiday. To enjoy a fireworks show from the water, remember to stay away from the 1000 feet perimeter safety zone.
If you’re familiar with water view firework shows, you may know that the Coast Guard will usually block off the hazardous areas, so just keep your distance from the flashing yellow lights.
As long as you’re within the safe zone and follow some basic boating regulations, your evening can be filled with spectacular enjoyment.
Know Your Boat’s Limits
Every boat has a strict maximum capacity that you can typically find near the operating station. In addition, there’s usually a plate, similar to a tag, that will specify weight limits and the recommended number of people. Remember to factor in any equipment’s weight that you plan on bringing.
Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with your boat’s specific controls. If this is the first time you’ve brought out the boat this year, as unlikely as that is, try going out for a test ride to ensure everything is in keen operation.
Additionally, look out for any federal, state, or local laws that may have changed within the last year. Boating regulations often undergo updates and expansions as new legislation passes, so ensure that you are up to date on any recent changes.
While you’re relaxing and enjoying the holiday, you’re not going to want unnecessary tickets and fines for being underprepared. So check all of your safety equipment ahead of time to ensure everything is functional and updated.
Some safety equipment is quite obvious, but a few items might not make it onto the checklist. For safe measure, here’s a quick list of some boating essentials this 4th of July:
- Ear Plugs
- Fire Extinguisher
- Life jackets
Sunscreen and earplugs are often second thoughts when planning your outing, but they will make the day much more enjoyable. Out in the hot sun, you’re going to want to apply sunscreen regularly to avoid severe sunburn.
Earplugs will come in handy if you plan on seeing a firework show this year. But, especially if you have children, bring a set or two for anyone with sensitive ears or if you decide to get a closer view.
Having a waterside barbecue is a perfect way to celebrate this summer. Remember to safely store your equipment and have a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies. Also, try to avoid working an open flame while the boat is in motion. Finally, try to find a safe place to dock or anchor before firing up the grill.
Of course, you’re going to need at least one life jacket aboard your vessel for every person on board. However, a new law requires children under the age of 13 to wear a life vest at all times on any size boat.
If you plan to bring alcohol, remember to have a designated driver with a valid license operate the vessel. Also, be aware of any local regulations that may prohibit alcohol consumption.
There are some wonderful attractions this year to celebrate the founding of our nation. So whether you’re planning a barbecue, a fireworks show, a boat parade, or other nautical fun, there are great places to go to meet your wants and needs.
Stay safe and happy this holiday as you celebrate Independence Day. Enjoy your festivities, and have a worry-free night of fun and excitement!
John Alois, Contributing Author