By reading this title you may think, “Not again. Not another booze article. How can we have fun on the water?” You can have all the fun you want, but remember, booze and boating simply don’t mix. Alcohol impairs your motor skills. Ever seen a person walk with a blood alcohol level of .10 or more? Imagine that person behind the steering wheel of a boat or personal watercraft. On the water there are several unique factors that add to the intensity of alcohol impairment: motion of the boat and dehydration.

Balance is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol. Combine this with the rocking of a boat and you have a real problem in the making — not only for the operator of the boat, but also for passengers. More than half of all boating fatalities are the result of a boater falling overboard.

The sun causes you to perspire, which removes the water from your body but leaves the alcohol in. So impairment happens more quickly.

If you think this is a bunch of hogwash, bear with me. In a study of boating fatalities in four states, 51 percent of the people who died had a blood alcohol content of .04 or more. It can happen to anyone who drinks while boating.

There are several myths about alcohol that should be replaced by the following realities:

• For every 18-degree increase in air temperature (above room temperature) the body’s absorption rate for alcohol doubles. That means alcohol is absorbed twice as fast at 93 degrees than at 75 degrees.

• Beer is not less intoxicating than other alcoholic beverages.

• Only time will sober a person, not black coffee or a cold shower.

• It is not easy to tell if someone is impaired.

• You are not the best person to judge if you are fit to drive.

Use common sense while out on the water. Do wear a life jacket. Don't mix alcohol and boating. Do observe the nautical rules-of-the-road. Don't overload your boat. Do keep a good lookout. Do check the weather before boating.

Are you are interested in volunteering to promote boating safety? Brigantine Flotilla 85 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary welcomes new members. The Auxiliary acts as a “force multiplier,” enabling Coast Guard active-duty and reserves to do more with the dollars budgeted by Congress. The auxiliary assists the Coast Guard in performing any Coast Guard function except law enforcement and military operations. And no task is more important than promoting and expanding the safety of life at sea. Meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month (except December) at the Brigantine Beach Community Center, 265 42nd St. at 6:45 p.m. Come join us at our next meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 17 and see what the auxiliary is all about. For more information, email boatsafely@comcast.net. Safe boating is no accident!

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