30 Must know facts about boating along the Emerald Coast!

Marina Florida Beach Sunset

Florida sunshine, balmy breezes and time with friends and family; what could be more fun and enjoyable than that? Boating is a stress-free and relaxing activity and a great way to spend your recreational time. Florida has over 8,000 miles of coastline and 4,500 square miles of inland waterways, making it a paradise for boaters. From mega-yachts to wooden skiffs, having a boat is as normal as having a car for some Floridians.

FACT 1. Good Morning America named this area one of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America.”

FACT 2. Emerald coast is perfectly situated to celebrate in style the aquatic wonder known as the Gulf of Mexico. Boaters find the bay and Intracoastal Waterway beginner-friendly; the active east Pass into the Gulf of Mexico, with its tides, currents and swells, calls for a more experienced hand.

FACT 3. To celebrate water with friends new and old, visit Crab Island, an “underwater island,” for boating and partying on the north side of the Destin bridge. In summer, a barge and boat vendors sell burgers, ice cream, steamed shrimp and other culinary treats.

FACT 4. Plentiful vacation rentals, including home and condo rentals, are only several miles away, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, kids’ programs and more.

FACT 5. Miramar Beach’s 98-slip, open-to-the-public Baytowne ® Marina welcomes boats up to 140 feet. The marina staff provides personal concierge services — arranging tee times, restaurant reservations and tram service. Other marinas dot the coastline.

FACT 6. Dream Boat: Cobalt A25 — lavish day-boat comfort for fun in the sun-dappled Gulf waters.

FACT 7. The nearby beaches of South Walton boast 17 coastal dune lakes. Separating them by sand from the Gulf, their dune barriers are breached several times a year to mix fresh and salt water.

FACT 8. Boat rentals are widely preferred form of vacationing activity for tourists all over the world because they provide satisfaction for both thrill seekers and casual vacationers.

FACT 9. Prior to renting a boat that is suitable for the size of your family, it is imperative that you dwell upon the subject of how efficient you are at handling a boat. If you are a rookie in this mechanic field and you have never had an experience driving a boat before, it is vital that you take a boat safety course from the boat rental company who will provide you with basic information about the operation of the boat and the navigation of the direction.

FACT 10. Being in contact with the necessary details about handling a boat does not complete your sailing lesson, you have to know about the specific type of boat you will set sail in. Some boats are manually powered and some boats are powered by  the motor. While it’s best that you choose a boat which does not require intensive manual labor, due to unavailability of a large variety of boat rentals.

FACT 11. If you’re looking for a boating experience that requires much physical strain as possible, then kayaks are a good option for thrill seekers. Their convenient size can enable you to paddle anywhere you want without having to worry about fitting the boat in remote areas.

FACT 12. If you are looking for a manual powered boats that are slow and has a cliché of romance in nature, then opting for canoes is a great idea as it enables you to drift along the shores of the ocean with slow paddling.

FACT 13. Usually powered by outboard engines, Pontoon boats are erected on a pair of steel pontoons or on aluminum. Most prominent among tourists because of their spacious deck and the facility of comfortable overnight arrangements in the sea, they provide a substantial benefit to tourists who are accompanied by a large entourage.

FACT 14. Unlike Pontoon boats, sport boats are usually faster and come with a lot of thrilling water adventures as it can be derived from the name. From water-skiing on an insuperable pace to casual fishing, they are also equipped with small amenities like cabins and deck boats etc. Due to their various usages, this is the most common type of boat rentals along the Emerald Coast.

FACT 15. How To Drive a Pontoon Boat is a common question here. The driving is similar to driving a car as far as steering. The main difference is that you’ll need to pay attention to the position of your motor and make sure it is positioned so that it is in the water but not touching the ground. You can do this with the tilt and trim button located on the throttle lever. The throttle lever is pretty simple, press forward to go forward (the more you push the faster you’ll go), and pull backward to go in reverse. Neutral is, not surprisingly, in the middle. This short description, of course, won’t teach you everything you need to know about driving a pontoon boat, however it will give you a good foundation to get started.

FACT 16. Florida joins more than 40 states with educational requirements for operating a boat or PWC on state waters.

FACT 17. Florida law requires the driver of the pontoon boat to be 16 years of age and if you are 21 years or younger you must have a valid Florida Boaters License or complete a boater’s safety test. If you are 22 years or older you do not need a boater’s license to drive the boat.

FACT 18. Even if not required by law to get the Florida boating license, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

FACT 19. A personal water craft (PWC), also called water scooter, is a recreational watercraft that the rider sits or stands on, rather than inside of, as in a boat.

FACT 20. No one under 14 years of age may operate any PWC on Florida waters at any time, even if such person possesses a Boating Safety Education ID Card. As well as no one under the age of 18 years may rent/lease a PWC. It is also illegal for the owner of a PWC to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a PWC.

FACT 21. All states, territories, and provinces will recognize boating education cards that meet NASBLA requirements and Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator Cards that meet Transport Canada’s requirements. (This is known as “reciprocity.”)

FACT 22. Florida law enforcement officers patrol the waterways to make your boating experience safe and pleasant. Cooperate with them by following the laws and guidelines.

FACT 23. Carry the Card Vessel operators who are required to have a Boater Education Card must carry the card on board the vessel and have it available for inspection by an enforcement officer. Penalty Not carrying your Boater Education Card when one is required can result in a fine.

FACT 24. You are allowed to take the boat through the Destin Harbor and the Choctawhatchee Bay. NO pontoon boats are allowed in the Gulf of Mexico. You are free to go to Crab Island, Noriega Point, or just cruise around.

FACT 25. An Okaloosa County Ordinance requires motorboats (including jet skis, wave runners, etc.) to stay at least 700 feet from the Gulf shoreline.

FACT 26. Both federal and state law requires vessels to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.). The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules specify lighting requirements for every description of watercraft. The information provided in the following link is for vessels less than 65.5 feet/20 meters in length.

FACT 27. Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as “Idle Speed – No Wake” must operate at the minimum speed that allows the vessel to maintain headway and steerage way. Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as “Slow Down – Minimum Wake” must operate fully off plane and completely settled in water.

FACT 28. In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood- or breath-alcohol level is at or above .08.

FACT 29. All boats, motorboats, and personal watercraft shall, whenever possible, keep at least three hundred (300) feet behind any boat towing a skier and shall stay clear of, by at least one hundred (100) feet, any boat or motorboat anchored or used for fishing. When a ski jump is in use, all other boats shall, whenever possible, stay at least one hundred (100) feet away on either side and five hundred (500) feet behind the ski jump.

FACT 30. PWCs, airboats, water skiing or any “towing” activity is not allowed within three National Refuge Areas of the Lower Keys:  Key Deer National Refuge, Great White Heron National Refuge, and the Key West Refuge. These areas are regulated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW).  Follow the link, and then scroll down to pages 20 and 21 to view a map of the restricted areas.

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