Avoiding Accidents on the Water


At Onyx, our top priority is giving each client a great experience with the crew members that best fit their needs. Your next great outing is about more than just finding a personalized and capable staff; safety plays a huge role in every successful journey. After all, the most enjoyable boating experiences are the ones without worry or responsibility, right? There are a lot of ways to avoid common mishaps on the water, and Onyx can help you be better prepared for every successful voyage.

hired skipper operating boat

Types of Boat Accidents

In 2019, the US Coast Guard counted 4,168 recreational boating accidents that resulted in 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and approximately $55 million dollars of property damage. The overwhelming majority of these accidents could have been avoided with the proper knowledge, preparation, and execution of safe boating procedures. Apart from considering both the water conditions and the state of the boat itself, there are dozens of potential dangers that need to be acknowledged in order to be avoided.


Some of the biggest contributing factors in boating accidents include operator inexperience, lack of attentiveness, improper lookout procedure, and excessive speed. What’s the common thread connecting these accidents? Operating the boat.


In fact, most boating accidents can be avoided when you put the right people in control. A smooth and safe ride begins with proper maintenance of the boat and continues with crew members devoted to a seamless voyage. With Onyx captains and crew members, you can have peace of mind that these kinds of operational mistakes won’t occur. Our highly qualified staff will ensure that you get the perfect crew for your outing every time.

Boat operations aren’t the only big factors in boating accidents — basic safety violations also result in far too many accidents. For example, operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or other substances is obviously not advisable. If you or your guests plan on enjoying refreshments before or during your trip, we strongly recommend hiring a captain and crew to keep an eye on the water. That way you can enjoy your outing with your guests and leave the work to the professionals.


Aside from the things we can control, other common causes of boating accidents include bad weather or poor water conditions. Sudden shifts in current, strong winds, storms, and other disturbances can make it challenging to navigate rough waters. Dangerous conditions that can arise on the water require expert captains and crew members that can react quickly and safely.

Don't Forget Your Safety Equipment

On the water, great pairings might include a classic cocktail with good friends or a dip in the water with the perfect playlist. To achieve your dream outing, make sure your vessel is paired with the right safety equipment. It’s another easy way to ensure you’re prepared for even the smallest accident or injury.


Depending on the size of your vessel, you’re more than likely required to have a boating first aid kit, fire extinguisher, personal floatation devices (PFDs) such as a life jacket for every passenger on board, and floatation devices that can be thrown into the water (such as a ring buoy) in case a passenger goes overboard. While PFDs might seem obvious, they aren’t always utilized even when they’re available. In 2019, the US Coast Guard reported that in cases of drowning, 86% of fatalities were not wearing a life jacket. Please consider wearing one (and encourage your guests to wear one, too) for the duration of your trip, especially while the boat is in motion.

life-belt at sunset

In case of distress, there are a few ways to attract attention from nearby vessels to ask for assistance. A signaling device usually uses either visuals or sound, and different signaling devices are required based on the size of the boat and the location of your trip. A visual distress signaling device is often a pyrotechnic device such as a flare gun or smoke gun, but can also include a strobe light (for nighttime use), or a brightly colored flag (for daytime use). Sound signaling devices can be more effective in poor weather conditions such as fog or heavy rain and can include bells, horns, or whistles.

creating a team to form a float plan

Create a Float Plan

A float plan for a boat is similar to a flight plan for planes — they are used to help locate a boat that is unaccounted for after a certain amount of time. A float plan is not filed with the US Coast Guard but instead is given to a friend, neighbor, or relative in order to be aware of your whereabouts. 

Think of this trusted person as a lifeline and an advocate for your safety. 


Your float plan should also be shared with all guests on board and should include information about where you’re traveling, when you’re expected to return, a list of who is on board, and a photo of the boat if possible. When using a float plan, be sure to contact the person after your trip to let them know you have returned.

Avoid Accidents with Onyx

In short, there are endless possibilities when heading out on open water. By ensuring you have a qualified crew that is up to date on safety protocols and the proper safety equipment, you can relax and enjoy every ride.


Onyx uses a detailed vetting service to ensure each captain, skipper, or crew member is qualified to meet your needs. Best of all, Onyx crew members are available on-demand, so even the last minute trips can be taken safely and responsibly.