Your Manitou pontoon boat can be the perfect place to watch professional fireworks launched for Independence Day, Canada Day or any other special occasion. When watching fireworks from a boat, you’ll have an unobstructed view in a dark environment, and often the exploding fireworks will be reflected on the water, making them even more spectacular. Follow these tips for viewing fireworks from your boat to make your experience a Manitou Moment that’s safe for everyone.
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 navigated 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 judgement. 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 the big event check to make sure all lights are functioning. 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 deck 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 or unraft 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 an experience you’ll never forget. With a little planning and care, you can make the evening another fantastic #ManitouMoment.