Michigan’s lakes have no painted lines or traffic lights to follow, and boats move in every which direction. This can create a risk of a boating accident if you aren’t careful!

Knowing how to properly boat and navigate the waters is important. Steering clear of other boats and obstacles is an obvious tip, but did you know there are a lot of other ways you can be safer when taking your boat out on the lake? Here are some boating safety tips.

Take a Boating Safety Class

A good place to start is to learn boating signals and maneuvers by simply taking a boating safety course. In addition to general tips, such as always keeping a lookout for other boats and traveling at a safe speed, a professional boat course can teach you other “water-road rules.” A boating safety course will include measures such as what to do if you are stranded, or your engine fails, or how to safely return to the bay in an emergency situation.

Additionally, a Michigan boat insurance discount is available if you have proof of a safety certificate after completing a boating safety course.

Safe Passing Techniques

Boaters should know the proper navigation rules on the water to properly and safely maneuver around other boats. Below are a few common scenarios, and how to safely handle them:

  1. Being passed by another boat: When another boat is approaching to pass another boat, the boat that is being passedmust maintain its speed – and course – to allow the other boat to safely pass on either side.
  2. If another boat is approaching head-on: In this case, both boatsshould keep to the right so as to safely pass each other. Just remember, “right rule.”
  3. Crossing paths or directions with another boat: Whichever boat is on the right has the right of way. The boat on the left is required to slow down and/or change its course to pass safely behind the boat on the right.

Use Your Horn.

It’s there for good reason!

Any time you are unsure of what to do when another boat is near or in your path, simply use your horn to signal your intention as you approach them. Here is a list of some of the most commonly used signals, and what each mean:

  1. One short blast: When crossing paths near another boater, this signal means you plan to pass their boat, leaving them on your left (port) side. If you are behind another boat, and about to pass it, one quick horn blast signifies that you will pass it on their right (starboard) side.
  2. Two short blasts: This horn alert is the opposite of one short blast. It means if you’re crossing paths near another boater, you will leave them on your right side. Or, if you are behind another boater, it means that you’ll pass them on their left side.
  3. Three short blasts: Use this horn signal to let other boaters know that you’re backing up.
  4. Five (or more) short blasts: A series of five short blasts is a danger signal. However, when another boat responds with a similar several-blast signal, it means both boaters understand the intended maneuver. If you ever feel unclear about another boat’s signal, this will alert them of your uncertainty.
  5. One prolonged blast: This alert tells other boaters that you are leaving a dock. Another common scenario where a long blast is signaled is when a boater is headed around a curve and cannot easily see other boats coming.


Boating On Lake Erie, Entrust Insurance St. Clair Shores, MI and Southeast Michigan

Avoid High Speeds at Night

This is extremely important, as many times dark waters could have dangers you can’t see until it’s too late. For example, if another boat is broken down, their lights may not be working properly, and you wouldn’t see it until making impact. Always keep flares on your boat just in case you yourself become broken down, as the flares will make it visible to other boaters of your position and location.

Carry Proper Michigan Boating Insurance

 It’s always best to speak with a Michigan local boat insurance agent, a trusted agent who knows the lay of the water. This is not only beneficial for you and your boat, but your passengers and other boaters as well. We are located in Saint Clair Shores and we know the boating insurance needs as well as the lay of the lake! Call Entrust Insurance Agency to get you the right Michigan boating insurance coverage for your exact needs!