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Oshkosh instructors share important safety tips with boaters

Posted at 11:47 AM, May 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-23 12:47:50-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — As the waterways of Northeast Wisconsin fill with boat traffic again, boating experts in Oshkosh have some safety tips for everyone. They say most people follow the rules, but there's room for improvement.

Sara Eliasen is a director of International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh and has been teaching kids to sail on Lake Winnebago and the surrounding waters for 16 years. She reminds boaters of the importance of being aware of their surroundings.

“It’s easy to just get caught up in what’s going on in your own boat," she said. "And that’s where I think a lot of boaters get in trouble, there are no traffic signs out on the water."

Eliasen said she's seen several power boats going too fast through no-wake zones and failing to yield to sailboats as required by law. There is also a concern about boaters drinking alcohol while on the water.

“Especially with the major holidays and stuff, there’s probably a lot of people out boating who probably should have a designated driver," Eliasen said. "That’s my own personal opinion.”

Sara's husband Steve Eliasen also works as a director of International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh. In addition to following laws like ensuring everyone has a life jacket and keeping a working fire extinguisher aboard, he advises boaters to take their time while out on the water and reminds them that "generally speaking, slower is better."

However, Steve acknowledges that things can still go wrong even when boaters follow best safety practices, and urges them to be prepared for the worst possible situations.

“If you’re taking on water, in big, deep cold water, or early season cold water, have a plan for that worst case scenario unfolding,” said Steve Eliasen.

For more information about boater safety from the U.S. Coast Guard, click HERE.