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Friday, November 10, 2023

Boating with Your Older Loved Ones: Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Trip

Boating with older adults can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are nine tips to ensure that everyone has a safe and fun time on the water.

As you enjoy the many benefits of boating around your local area, you may have the occasion to invite older adults on your journeys. Maybe an uncle or neighborhood friend wants to spend time soaking up some vitamin D or bring out the bait and tackle for a fishing trip. Whatever the reason, enjoying time with loved ones and boating go hand in hand.

First things first, start by taking a boating safety course to ensure you have common sense responses to keeping these treasured passengers safe. Boating safety has a lot to do with awareness and education, so it never hurts to take a boating safety course for your own benefit.

After that, utilize our safety tips for your next boating adventure, and you’ll be able to sit back, share stories, and have a grand time on and off the water.

Tip #1 – Take Your Time

You must know older adults cannot move as well as they used to when they were younger. Boating safely for older generations requires you to take your time when you are onboarding or debarking. They need stable surfaces and extra railings to avoid accidents. 

You may want to install some gritty strips for better footing or make use of bow/stern thrusters to better stabilize your vessel. Most boating safety course guidelines will provide great tips on other accommodations you can make to keep them safe when getting on and off your boat. 

Tip #2 – Proactively Check the Weather

The next item in our boating safety tips for older adults involves keeping an eye on your weather radar. Weather can rapidly change the overall experience on the water. High winds or unexpected storms will shift how your passengers move. 

These also make it much harder to communicate. Winds can cause boating safety nightmares, especially when your passengers have trouble hearing. Be proactive and check to ensure it will be a fine and sunny day on the water. 

Tip #3 – Enforce Life Jackets

Life jackets are not just a boating safety recommendation. In many cases, these are non-negotiable safeguards enforced by local authorities. Even when you have older adults who feel they are fine, ask them to wear a life jacket on your boat. As people age, they forget how fragile the body becomes. 

A quick trip into the drink, especially in colder climates, can quickly turn into a search and rescue situation. Don’t leave your passengers wet, and stick to having fun with some comfortable and good-fitting life jackets. 

Tip #4 – Have a First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a staple on any vessel, but with older passengers, it becomes a bit more necessary. They have tighter/thinner skin that is more susceptible to scrapes and joints/muscles more prone to injury. A kit with pain management and cut-related remedies will boost your safety and keep everyone in your family safe, regardless of age. 

Tip #5 – Enjoy Creature Comforts

Comfort is king on any boating trip. Older passengers are going to have less resilience sitting up on a choppy day or dealing with hard surfaces. Try to keep your boat well stocked with snacks, water, meals, and sunscreen. 

Remind them to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. You may want some umbrellas for shade and pillows/blankets for a cozy touch if the winds are slightly chilly. 

Tip #6 – Avoid Night Boating

Diminished vision and the potential for confusion make night boating less than ideal for older passengers. These are your friends you are trying to spend quality time enjoying. That can be tough when it is so dark you cannot see past your nose. 

Unless you're touring a well-lit skyline, it's best to dock before dusk. You’ll avoid colder nights and safety issues, especially if they want to get in some swimming or fishing on their trip. 

Tip #7 – Communicate

Clear communication is a cornerstone of boating safety. Keep everyone informed about the day's plans, and be mindful if they have trouble hearing. Familiarity breeds comfort, so narrate your actions and check in often to ensure your guests feel secure. 

Think of this boating adventure as a great time to treat older adults as if you were a tour guide. Give them insights into the local fishing spots, shoreline buildings, or the latest developments in nearby cities. Listen to their stories in return, and you’ll have a fantastic time on the boat. 

Tip #8 – Maintain Your Vessel

A well-maintained boat isn't just a pride point - it's a safety essential. Unexpected breakdowns can be an inconvenience at best and a danger at worst, especially with older adults aboard. Regular checks and maintenance are fundamental boating safety tips every skipper should follow.

If your engine breaks down in the middle of a big lake or ocean, you’ll be a real pickle quickly. Older adults are kind of like young kids in that they’ll need a restroom, plenty of water, and snacks to stay comfortable. This can be doubly worse if they cannot access medication left in the car. Keep your boat in tip-top shape, and you’ll avoid all these accidents. 

Tip #9 – Remember Mobility

Consider the mobility of your passengers. Sudden movements and shifts can be more complex for those who aren't as agile. Be proactive and rearrange seating for stability and comfort, so everyone enjoys the ride without strain.

Older passengers will not be able to turn to speak with you or shift from seat to seat based on the way you’re driving. Try to put them in the center of the activity where they can just sit back and relax while still being part of the ongoing conversation. 


Embarking on a boating trip with older loved ones can be an enriching experience, fostering connection, and creating lasting memories. As long as you follow these boating safety tips or any other suggestions by your local Coast Guard organization, you’re bound to have a great experience. 

If nothing else, take a boating safety course. This will help you be more aware of your passenger’s safety needs, from the head to the feet, and give you the benefits of proactively preparing your vessel for anyone of any age to come onboard. 


What are some safety tips for seniors? 

Ensure stable footing, clear communication, and constant monitoring of comfort and safety needs. Communicate clearly with them and listen to what they require for a relaxing and rewarding boating adventure.

What not to do when boating? 

Avoid night boating, ignoring weather forecasts, and neglecting boating safety essentials. In most cases, you can use common sense to keep the essential safety kits nearby, so your passengers are happy, even during an emergency.

What should be avoided by recreational boaters? 

Overlooking the importance of a first aid tools, not enforcing the use of a life jacket, and failing to maintain the boat are all pitfalls to accidents on your boat. Again, think before you put into the water, and you should be good to go.

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