The Dangers of Distracted Boating: How to Stay Focused with SCAN

distracted boating

Boating is sometimes looked at as a bit of a slacker’s sport. After all, many hit the water specifically as a break from the hustle and bustle of real life. Even so, the fact that boating is associated with a lax lifestyle doesn’t mean that even the most “chill” of captains can let safety go by the wayside. Atop that list of risky boating practices is distracted boating–something many of us struggle with now that smartphones put the internet at our fingertips.

Instead of taking selfies and updating your Twitter feed with the latest from your boating adventure, put the phone down while operating your vessel and use your day on the water as a bit of an escape–unplug, as they say. As we’ve discussed in a previous blog post, distracted driving is dangerous enough, but when you add in the dangers inherent with operating a boat, the risks only increase.

How to Avoid Distracted Boating

In an article from Boating Mag, the National Safe Boating Council director emeritus Virgil Chambers outlined a handy reminder to keep your mind off of distractions and prioritize safety. Just remember to SCAN:

  • Search: Always remember to scan your surroundings for potential dangers, such as fellow boaters, sandbars, and other obstructions. Remember, the higher the speed, the less time you’ll have to avoid anything in your path. 
  • Concentrate: You have to also be sure to focus on other objects with which you’re sharing the water. Is it another boat? Is that vessel traveling a bit too quickly? Is it stationary? Concentrating on the waterway will keep you from accidentally running into trouble. 
  • Analyze: Pay close attention to whether the object in view is seeming to get closer to you without changing position. This is a sure sign that you are on a collision course and need to change direction. 
  • Negotiate: If you find yourself on a collision course, do not panic. Instead, safely make an obvious adjustment after carefully assessing your current position.

By keeping your concentration on safety while operating your vessel, you can enjoy more time having fun once stationary. Though smartphones may be handy in an emergency or to snap some pictures of your adventures, just make sure electronics and other factors don’t lead you into the dangerous waters of distracted boating.