The Costa Concordia Disaster: What Can We Learn From It?

The Costa Concordia after it ran aground.
Roberto Vongher

By now, you?ve probably heard about the Costa Concordia disaster that took place last Friday, Jan. 13. If you haven?t, here?s a little background.

The Costa Concordia is an Italian cruise ship that ran aground and capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio. The ship was under the command of Captain Francesco Schettino, who allegedly steered the ship dangerously off course in an attempt to ?salute? the residents of the island. By doing so, the ship struck rocks and eventually tipped over. At press time, 11 people are confirmed dead, and several are still missing. If the allegations against Schettino are true, it means that he ignored his navigational maps and needlessly put the ship in danger. To make matters worse, he is accused of abandoning the ship before the rest of the passengers and crew, which is a blatant disregard of protocol.

Incidents like this serve as powerful and unfortunate reminders that, while on the water, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings. Even if you?re spending the day on a lake that you?re very familiar with, you need to exercise caution whenever you?re operating a boat of any size. If not, disaster could strike at any time.

Here are some tips that anglers, and boaters in general, should follow while operating any kind of watercraft.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It's important to know where any obstacles may be when out on the water.
Ranger Boats

This one is pretty self explanatory. Never assume that you know the exact location of any obstacles on a lake. Rocks, sandbars/shoals, submerged trees ? all of these can pop up unexpectedly and cause severe damage to your boat, as well as put you and anyone else on board at risk. It?s always wise to have a GPS system with a charting chip, as these devices will highlight any obstacles that you should be aware of. And if you?re boat is equipped with sonar, it?s imperative that you?re familiar with it, as it can be very useful in avoiding obstacles.

Don?t Show Off

While the allegations against Capt. Schettino have not yet been proven, they are very serious, and if true could land him in prison. Under no circumstances should you show off, hot dog, or put your boat in a situation that could lead to it capsizing. Not only is it foolish and potentially costly, it?s also dangerous for you and other passengers.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Being properly prepared will ensure the safety of you and your family.
Ranger Boats

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, tragedy can strike out on the water. Even if you?ve plotted your course and operated your boat with the utmost care, accidents can happen. When they do, you need to be prepared. This means having first aid kits and life vests on board (one life vest per passenger, no exceptions), as well as having a way to alert the authorities that help is needed. It also helps to have a plan worked out before you go out on the water ? one that outlines your route and clearly shows the vicinity of the lake where you?ll be.

Don?t Panic

Always keep a level head, and don't panic.
Ranger Boats

If you?re operating a boat that is in distress, it?s up to you to keep a level head and make sure that all of the passengers on board, as well as yourself, are safe. Panicking does nothing but make matters worse, so in any situation, follow the plan that you set out for yourself, and see it through to the end. By doing so, you?ll lessen the risk of the situation getting completely out of your control.

Get a BoatUS Membership

By purchasing a BoatUS membership, you'll ensure that if you have a boating mishap on the water, help won't be far away.

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