Dogs and Boats

If you are taking your dog on a boating trip, your dog’s temperament and physical condition will dictate the success of the trip. A very nervous dog may not enjoy the rocking motion or high speeds of a power boat or PWC. An old dog may tire easily in the water and a dog with a tendency to get overly excited may jump overboard unexpectedly.

Knowing your dog’s limits will help you to prepare safely for the trip

  • Familiarise your dog with the boat. If your boat is on a trailer, let your dog adjust to being in the boat on land first. Similarly with canoes and kayaks, it’s a good idea to get your  dog used to the vessel out of the water.
  • Keep the first outing short to allow your dog to adjust to the vessels rocking motion. Your dog may become seasick. If seasickness becomes severe talk with your local vet about possible medication for future outings.
  • Use harnesses to ensure your dog doesn’t fall off and harness them to the boat when underway, or when docking. This is particularly important for speedboats and PWC.
  • Practice capsizing. If you are in a canoe, kayak or PWC practice capsizing to get you both prepared for when you capsize accidentally.
  • Excessive sun exposure can cause heat problems for dogs, including sun stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. Ensure your dog stays cool  to prevent overheating. Boat surfaces, such as fiberglass, can get extremely hot in the sun. Providing a shaded area for your dog is a good idea.
  • Always have plenty of fresh drinking water available for your dog. Dogs lose body fluid when they pant, so make sure you keep them hydrated.
  • Boats move and bounce around so a non- spill water bowl is a handy item to have aboard.
  • Arrange toilet stops. Plan ahead for how and when your pet will go to the toilet. If your dog has been trained to only go to the toilet when out walking, you may have trouble on the boat. Don’t forget to pick up behind your dog.
  • Invest in a lifejacket for your dog. You may think your dog is a strong swimmer, but depending on the conditions, currents and wind he or she may struggle in the water. Most pet lifejackets come in bright colours and are fitted with a handle so you can lift and pull them out of the water.
  • Watch for fishing hooks. When fishing, beware of your hooks and lines, particularly when casting. Dogs can get excited when fish are being reeled aboard. It’s a good idea to keep your pet contained when you’re reeling in a catch.
  • Check any local laws relating to dogs and boating. There may be restrictions regarding dogs on beaches where you plan to stop for a picnic.
  • Carry your local vets contact details with you in case you need to radio or phone for medical assistance.
  • If your dog likes to swim in salt water, wash him off with fresh water, drying well at lest once a day. Salt water left on the dog could cause skin problems.

Try fitting out your pet with a yellow Marlin Australia Pet Life Vest. College students wear Marlin inflatable lifejackets for the duration of their practical training.

Titanic’s error of judgement


Movie’s have made this sea disaster famous, but do you know which International Collision Regulation Rule the Captain of the Titanic, Captain E.J Smith broke?

Departing from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912, bound for New York Titanic’s owners were keen for her to deliver a good show of speed for the voyage. On the 14th of April, at 22.5 knots, near to her top speed of 24 knots iceberg warnings began to come in from other vessels. Iceberg warnings were common at that time of the year and Captain Smith being a prudent and experienced mariner altered course slightly to the southwest. At 11.40pm the lookout in the crow’s nest sounded the alarm, “Iceberg dead ahead”. The helm was put hard to starboard, but not quickly enough. Less than forty seconds after the alarm, the iceberg struck the Titanic a glancing blow, punching a series of holes beneath her waterline.

There is little doubt that pressure for a speedy Atlantic crossing clouded the judgement of a capable Captain. Have you guessed which rule Captain Smith broke?

“Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed” Rule 6

Proceeding at a safe speed means taking into consideration:

  • Visibility (fog, rain, spray)
  • Traffic density
  • Manoeuvrability and stopping distances of the vessel
  • Background lights at night time
  • Weather conditions
  • State of wind, sea and current
  • Depth of water
  • Navigation hazards (ice, rock shoals, channel markers, other vessels and any submerged floating objects)
  • Limitations of radar

Travelling at a safe speed means that your vessel can be stopped in time to avoid a sudden danger. As the Skipper it is your responsibility to keep a proper lookout at all times and to be continually assessing your speed for safety. Slow down at night and in conditions of poor visibility. Slow down and look before turning.