Celebrate a Spectacular Independence Day Aboard

Most boaters spend the 4th of July holiday on their boats. Many extend the day by rafting-up with friends to enjoy the fireworks after dark. There are many municipalities that launch fireworks displays from or nearby popular anchorages. There is nothing like being a part the excitement, joining in with the revelers at your local raft-up, to watch rockets exploding and percussion bells blasting right overhead. However, it takes planning to make it a safe and enjoyable event. Here are some tips for watching fireworks from your boat.

• Run a systems check. Finding a problem and fixing it is a lot harder in the dark of night. Check fluid levels, bilge pumps, ground tackle, windless and especially, running, steaming and anchor lights.

• Leave your pets at home or better yet with a friend or family. Most pets are terrified by the annual displays of noise and fire.

• Prepare provisions ahead so everyone can enjoy the show without having to be relegated to prepping on anchor.

• Scout your anchorage and get there early. Make sure you will be anchoring outside of any restricted areas. It is not fun, after waiting several hours, to be jockeying around for a new anchorage 15 minutes before the show because the local authorities forced you to move.

• Be sure your anchor is set and the rode has an adequate amount of scope. You do not want to have to deal with the anchor breaking free in the middle of the show.

• Be a good boat neighbor. Turn off bright lights and turn down the radio, unless the fireworks are set to music on the station you are listening to. If you use a dinghy to visit other boats do not wake the neighboring boats. Just common courtesies.

• Make sure children and adults who need supervision wear their life jackets. A splash in the middle of the show will go unheard and everyone will be looking up. Do a head count every so often to make sure everyone is onboard.

• The captain and vital crew should keep their libations to a minimum. You will be dealing with plenty of others who will be drinking too much and watching the “yahoos” play pin-ball with their boats as you wait for the sun to go down.

• Do not light fireworks on your boat. Remember that fiberglass is flammable and you are sitting on a tank of explosive fuel, surrounded by other flammable boats with tanks of fuel.

• When the show is over, take your time leaving. Turn on plenty of lights so those that are in a hurry to return to their docks can plainly see you. Wait until the anchorage is fairly cleared out before pulling up anchor. Better yet, if you can, plan to stay the night. Just remember, if you have a gas generator, turn it off before going to sleep.

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