If you are a visitor to South Carolina and enjoying water activities in the Myrtle Beach area, you may be interested in renting a pontoon boat. A voyage to Bird Island with a picnic lunch to enjoy might be the perfect outing for your family.
The owner of your rental pontoon should provide safety instructions before you leave the harbor. Those instructions should include a warning against bow riding.
How accidents occur
A barrier or fence running around the perimeter of the open-air pontoon boat provides containment for the seating. However, it is possible to sit in front of the fence, in a risky practice known as bow riding. Although adults may also engage in this activity, children are especially fond of it; they like feeling the speed and the breeze and being able to dangle their feet in the water while the boat is under way.
Accidents happen when the pontoon hits a wave or the wake of another boat, throwing bow riders into the water. Similar accidents can occur to those who are standing near the front rail or an open gate in the fence, or those who engage in horseplay, lose their balance and fall overboard.
The possibility of injury or death
Of the various ways someone could fall off a pontoon boat, bow riding is among the most common. These accidents usually happen when the boat is still moving. Even if the operator immediately pulls the gear to neutral, it may be too late to avoid tragedy because the body of the victim often strikes the propeller, causing severe injury or death.
Maritime law applies
As the renter of a pontoon boat, you have the expectation of receiving safety information, any applicable warnings and proper boat operating instruction from the owner or rental company. If someone in your family is injured or loses their life in a bow riding incident, you can seek counsel from a maritime attorney. Remember that maritime and admiralty laws always apply to boating accidents.