Watching Fireworks from Your Boat

Published on Jul 01, 2011

Sailing at Night
Talk about the best of both worlds! Enjoying a fireworks show from your boat is a wonderful way to combine two favorite activities. There’s just something about seeing the bright reflections off the water that makes you feel like you’re getting double the entertainment. And if you’ve only experienced a fireworks show from dry land, you are in for a real treat.

There are some unique challenges to enjoying a show from the water, but with a little planning, you can make sure you and family have a safe and memorable evening. Remember that there will usually be two things that will tend to present the biggest obstacles. It will be dark, and it will (probably) be crowded. Just recognizing those two factors will go a long way in terms of helping prepare for the festivities. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the evening:

Well before you get underway, take time to check that all running and anchor lights are working properly. And make sure you have all of your safety equipment including a whistle (or other approved noise-making advice) and a life jacket for everyone on board. Sometimes you’ll have more passengers than usual for a special trip like this, so a life-jacket count is important. Remember that water-enforcement authorities will be out in force.

Make sure you have ear protection for children or hearing-sensitive adults. The sound of exploding fireworks is greatly amplified across open water. And while your pets may love being part of the action on most boat trips, please leave them at home. The disorienting lights and loud sounds can cause anxiety in even the calmest animal. And there are already enough distractions for the captain and crew.

Find a good spot well before the show starts. Whether you’re beaching, rafting with other boats, or dropping anchor in open water, you will not regret getting there a little early and staking your claim (well outside the restricted area around the launching platform) while there’s still some daylight. This will help ensure that you’ve chosen a spot well out of the main channel where all the latecomers will be cruising for a remaining anchorage.

For the safety of your passengers and other boaters, keep libations off limits for the captain and vital crew. You will have plenty of things to keep track of before, during and after the show. Keep your wits about you and don’t “be that guy.”

Don’t add to the show. That means turning off all non-required lights onboard and never launch your own fireworks from the boat. No spotlights, no flashlights, no sparklers. It just detracts from the viewing experience for your boat and everyone around you. And keep your radio off or turned down. There will be plenty of ambient noise and sounds to keep you occupied!

Finally, after the show, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Most accidents happen when there’s a mad dash back to the dock. Often the ones in a hurry have not heeded the advice to stay away from the holiday “spirits.” You’ve already taken the time to get set up and properly anchored. Enjoy the mass exodus and a sky full of stars while the crowds file out of the area.

Enjoying a fireworks show from the water is one of the great delights for any boating family. It’s an experience you won’t forget. And with a few precautions and a little planning, you can make it an experience you can enjoy safely.