Staying safe on the water

Posted at 11:41 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-12 23:41:12-04


Following a deadly day at sea for a Treasure Coast family, local boating safety experts want you to remember your safety options out on the water.


Three family members died when Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says their boat sunk, and three people on board drowned.


The bodies of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Fernandas Jones, his 9-year-old son Jaden, and Willis Bell were found Monday.


Investigators say Jones was an experienced fisherman.


Dan Lund, owner of the Freedom Boat Club in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, says even the most experienced boaters can run into trouble.


“The sea can be a very dangerous place,” Lund says. 


Lund’s boat club puts hundreds of families on the water in rental boats each year, and has their safety at top of mind. “We do our absolute best to train them and provide them with all the safety gear they need while they’re out on the water,” Lund said.


The gear Lund includes is what he says every boater on the water should have with them.


That includes a whistle and emergency flares. He also recommends keeping maps on board should GPS Systems fail.


“Check the flares each time to make sure they’re within the date,” Lund said.


He also equips all of his boats with a radio to maintain a reliable line of communication to land.


He doesn’t let boaters go past ten miles off shore where the radio quality could be threatened.


If something happens to his boaters, a GPS system on board helps him get them help. “We go to our finding system and we can ping them and get their exact latitude and longitude. We know exactly where they are.”


He stocks each boat with a fire extinguisher and coast guard grade life jackets. 


Mainly, he says boaters just need to be aware of their surroundings and changes to weather and tides.


Lund says he does not keep EPIRBs on his boats, mainly because his boaters stay in the intracoastal. If they do go off shore, he says he can still track their location through a GPS system. 


If the boaters are overdue, he will immediately attempt to contact them or begin a search.