FIREWORKS OVER THE water are pretty spectacular. Not only does the sky light up in a dazzling display of boom and bam, but the water reflects that razzle-dazzle, creating a kaleidoscope of ooh- and ahh-worthy sea- and skyscapes. Whether you’re in San Diego, Seattle or anywhere on the coast between, there might be a fireworks display visible from the water.
With all that pageantry and pyrotechnic proficiency going on, it’s easy to forget you’re on a boat and that the rules of the water still apply. But they do. In fact, the night of July 4 is a time to pay extra special attention to the navigation rules, and to go out of your way to observe them for others, too, because not everyone will. If you and a bunch of your family and friends are fortunate enough to hit the water for a fireworks show, keep a few things in mind.
• Look out for other boats. Seems obvious, but really, watch out for other boats. There are bound to be more of them on the water than usual, and for many operators, this might be the only time they operate after dark all summer, so the conditions are ripe for rookie mistakes.
• Check and double check your navigation lights. And then hope everyone driving a boat after the show knows what the lights mean.
• PFDs matter, especially to the Coast Guard and harbor patrol. Remember, if your boat’s big enough to host 20 people but you don’t have 20 life jackets aboard, your boat can’t host 20 people. Kids aboard? Make sure their PFD is on at all times. It’s going to be dark and they’re going to have their attention skyward during the show.
• Don’t overload your boat. You might only be going a short distance at no-wake speed, but your boat doesn’t know that, and the manufacturer certainly didn’t build in a July 4 exception during construction. Also, refer to the previous paragraph.
• Maintain a proper safety zone around other boats and around any fireworks barges, if the pyrotechnics are being launched from the water.
• Assign a sober skipper. It’s as important on the water as it is on the road.
• Most importantly, enjoy the show, wherever you are fortunate enough to view it. If you put your shutterbug talents to use, share a photo or two with us on Facebook.