For large fireworks displays, the U.S. Coast Guard or the local marine patrol may designate an approved anchoring zone that will be in safe water, out of a channel and away from an area where spent fireworks may land on the water. If you can, check out this area in daylight to become familiar with the route and the water depth for anchoring. Make the destination a GPS waypoint on your navigation device and plot a route home to help you navigate after the show. Practice navigating home in the dark from the anchoring zone if you are unfamiliar with the route or don’t boat often after sunset. This will give you a chance to pick out landmarks and channel markers.
Be a sober captain to ensure that nothing interferes with your judgment. Marine patrols are likely to be in “zero tolerance” mode during busy events like a fireworks display, and you need to be on top of your game to navigate in the dark, in a crowd.
Stay aware of your boat’s weight capacity, which is listed on the capacity plate near the helm. Overloading your boat with too many passengers or too much weight can affect boat handling and stability. Overloading is a frequent cause of boat accidents during fireworks events.
Wear Those Lifejackets:
Make sure everyone on board is wearing a standard or inflatable life jacket. The risk of a collision or grounding will increase in the dark and with a crowd, and the water may be rough from the wake of other boats.
Check Your Lights:
If you don’t often boat at night, you may never use your navigation lights. Before you take off from shore for your evening adventure, it's best to check you have the navigation lights on board and working properly. The front bi-color light is typically stowed in your Alumacraft bow compartments, and the all-round white light can be found in the starboard side cockpit storage near the captains helm. Avoid using a flashlight or spotlight that could temporarily blind another captain.
Bring a Bucket:
A stray ember from the fireworks that lands on your boat could singe upholstery or deck carpet, or even start a fire. Bring along a bucket and fill it with water before the show begins, and you’ll be ready to douse any stray debris that lands on your boat.
Leave Your Fireworks at Home:
Launching fireworks from the rocking bow or stern of a boat is dangerous, especially in a crowded environment. Your stray bottle rocket could hit another boat, start a fire, or distract another captain.
Hang Back After the Show:
When the fireworks are over, consider letting other boats pull up anchor and leave while you relax. This will let smoke from the fireworks display clear and allow boat traffic to disperse, making it safer and easier for you to navigate back to shore. Remember that boat ramps and public docks are also likely to be crowded after a fireworks display, so build extra time into your plans.
Watching fireworks from the water can be a spectacular sight to see. With a little planning and care, you can make the evening a night your friends and family will remember for years to come.