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Okaloosa Watersport Operators release ‘pontoon safety’ video ahead of peak boating season

The Okaloosa County Watersports Coalition (OCWOC) has released the final installment of its three-part boaters education series, focusing on the safe operation of pontoon boats in local waters. Narrated by […]

The Okaloosa County Watersports Coalition (OCWOC) has released the final installment of its three-part boaters education series, focusing on the safe operation of pontoon boats in local waters.

  • The nearly 10-minute video, released on Friday, June 21, 2023, aims to educate rental operators, locals, and tourists on responsible boating practices and navigation of Okaloosa County’s waterways.

Narrated by local film producer and Travel Channel host Shane Reynolds, the video emphasizes courtesy, caution, and good judgment for an enjoyable and safe boating experience.

The comprehensive guide covers a range of topics, including rental requirements, pontoon boat orientation, anchoring techniques at popular spots like Crab Island, weather preparedness, and the dangers of boating under the influence.

The video outlines Coast Guard regulations, stipulating that renters must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license. Drivers are required to provide photo identification and maintain a copy of the lease agreement throughout the rental period.

  • Detailed instructions on essential safety equipment and procedures are provided. The importance of properly worn life jackets is stressed, particularly for non-swimmers and weak swimmers. Children under six are required to wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets at all times while the vessel is in operation.

Special attention is given to navigating the sometimes challenging waters of Okaloosa County, particularly around Crab Island and the East Pass. The video warns of strong currents in these areas and advises assessing water depth and current strength before allowing passengers to enter the water.

The critical issue of boating under the influence is addressed, with the video emphasizing that drinking or drug use while operating a boat is strictly prohibited and a serious violation of Florida law with severe consequences.

Several local organizations collaborated on the creation of this safety video, including the City of Destin, Okaloosa County Tourist Development, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. City of Destin Councilman and Florida Boating Advisory Councilman John Stephens also contributed to the project.

  • The OCWOC plans to distribute the video to rental operators in Okaloosa County and local government entities. They are encouraging locals and businesses to share the resource with their families and guests.

This release marks the completion of the coalition’s three-part boaters education series. However, the OCWOC is not resting on its laurels. The organization has recently partnered with HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital to promote their “Think before you dive” campaign. See story here.

Looking ahead, the coalition is considering expanding its educational efforts. John Stephens, owner of Luther’s in Destin and a representative from OCWOC, stated that while they have finished the three-part series, they would like to continue creating safety videos on topics such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and beach safety.

  • The coalition notes that additional funding will be necessary to produce these future educational resources.

The OCWOC encourages anyone interested in getting involved with their initiatives to visit their website at https://boatokaloosa.org/ for more information.

As the summer boating season continues to heat up, this new educational resource aims to enhance safety on Okaloosa County’s waterways. The video concludes with an invitation for viewers to visit the Emerald Coast and explore the area’s natural beauty, always with safety in mind.

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“Welcome back Brig. Gen. Massaro.”
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