Local Boat Captains Talk Safety in Wake of Missouri Capsize

Seventeen people, including children, are dead after two duck boats were caught in a storm in Missouri. It all happened after bad weather “came out of nowhere” according to the duck boat company.

For boat captains back in Northern Michigan, it’s another reminder of the serious threat of changing weather.

“You’re always looking at the weather, the way the winds blowing, how it’s blowing, how hard, everything,” said Sailor Frank Rolfs. “There’s an app on your phone you check every day.”

Being safe means having a plan when things go bad. It also means that prevention can be the best protection. Michigan has some of the toughest regulations on charter boats in the country.

“[Michigan] has one of the safest track records in the union,” said Michigan Charter Boat Association President Eric Andersen. “Here in Michigan, we have some of the strictest laws…every two years, the Michigan DNR comes to do a dockside inspection, and that inspection consists of all the equipment that’s required on a boat, life jackets, etc.”

The safety inspection also check’s the captain’s license and insurance. The state also requires a full interior boat inspection every six years.

If you’re riding in a charter boat this weekend, there’s a few things you can do to keep yourself safe:

1: Ask your captain where the life jackets are. They should be in handy place that you could access in a moment if there’s an emergency situation. Every charter boat should also have a life-saving ring, and a strobe light attached in case there’s a man overboard situation

2.Locate the boat’s safety inspection sticker. When the Michigan DNR checks a charter boat every two years, they give captains a neon sticker. The sticker means the boat met all the safety requirements. Make sure that the sticker and inspection is current and not expired. Do not board a boat that does not have this sticker.

3. Find the fire extinguishers. Every boat should have some in case of an emergency on board.

4. Watch your alcohol consumption. Especially if you’re sailing a boat. You need sharp attention to monitor the constantly changing weather and traffic on the water.