Preparing Your Passengers

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Taking the public for hire is serious business. The captain needs to be aware of who he/she is taking out. For many passenger’s, this is their first time on a boat and they most likely do not have any idea how to operate it or what to do in an emergency situation. If you or your captain fall overboard or have a serious medical condition, will your passengers know what to do?

The following are some of what should be covered with your passengers before leaving port on each trip:

• Show them where the life jackets are located so that if the captain gives the order for everyone to don them, people aren’t wasting precious time tripping over each and tearing things apart trying to find them. It’s amazing how many boats have them tucked away somewhere out of sight, and the majority of guests/crew has no idea where to find them.

• Point out the fire extinguisher and flare locations and instruct passengers/crew how to use them.

• Conduct a short demonstration on how to use the VHF radio. Discuss which channel is the emergency channel, and have a laminated instruction card attached to it or near it clearly explaining how to use it in case of emergency. A quick learn on how to pinpoint the current vessel location on the GPS (if you have one) to give to the emergency personnel is also a good idea. If you do not have a GPS, teaching guests to spot and relay back any landmarks is the next best thing.

• Simple boat operation instruction – Learning to properly operate a boat takes many years and a passenger will most likely never attain the same knowledge a seasoned captain has, but taking 60 seconds to show passengers where the throttle and gears are located, and that the gears must be in neutral to start the engines is something that could potentially save their lives.

• It is also a good idea to just show people where some basic equipment is located – life ring, boat hooks, gaffs, lines, first aid kit, etc., just in case they are asked to retrieve them in a hurry. Also, always tell people where a sharp knife on board is located in case it’s needed in a hurry to cut a line.

A brief 5 minute passenger orientation to go over the basics of boating safety, operation, and the emergency equipment on board like this one, could mean the difference between life and death for passengers, captain, and crew.