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Boating boom brings increased safety awareness

Pandemic drives more people to water
boat, boating
Posted at 5:40 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 08:04:29-04

LAKE PARK, Fla. — Many people turned to boating during the pandemic as a safe way to get outside and enjoy what Florida has to offer, but it's also come with a call for more experience on the waterway.

Capt. Lauren DeLuca is the director of operations and safety at Freedom Boat Club in South Florida. She said the boating boom is apparent.

"Since the pandemic, people have been on the water like crazy," she said. "The boating industry has tripled, and they don't expect it to stop anytime soon."

Boater Tom Holland and Capt. Lauren DeLuca
Tom Holland and Capt. Lauren DeLuca discuss boater safety on the water.

Tom Holland recently moved to Florida and said he enjoys a new way of life on the water.

"The pandemic hit, and we couldn't go out of the house, couldn't do anything, and so [I] was like, 'Yeah we can go boating, because it's just us on the boat, and we can do that,'" he explained.

Holland joined a boat club as a more affordable alternative to owning a boat.

"Since March, we come out about once a week, we go out boating," he said.

Freedom Boat Club
Freedom Boat Club is the world's largest members-only boat club.

Safety concerns come with the increased interest in boating in South Florida. Area captains said it's important to know what you are doing.

"There's a lot of people that get on the water that don't have the basic knowledge you need to navigate," DeLuca said. "How to read the signs. There are rules on the water just like there are on land. There is definitely an increase in number of people on the water, so you are increasing the risk something could potentially happen."

DeLuca applauded Holland for taking boating safety seriously, taking the appropriate courses with the boat club.

"You keep on practicing until she (the captain) is comfortable that you know what you are doing," Holland said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers boating safety courses. Click here for more information.