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Boating Safety

Branford Shoreline Safety Information

You are responsible for your actions, and those of your passengers. Learn the proper safety procedures to minimize the chance of accidents.

Emergency Assistance

In all cases of a life threatening nature, a boater should instruct everyone to wear a life jacket and call the Coast Guard- "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" on VHF channel 16 (the international distress frequency channel), stating their VESSEL NAME, LOCATION, NATURE OF DISTRESS AND NUMBER OF PEOPLE ON BOARD (POB), Remain on VHF Channel 16, until instructed by the Coast Guard to take other actions. Repeat your call as necessary.

Non-Emergency Assistance

If you have run out of gas, have a dead battery, engine problems and are not in any immediate danger, you can call for assistance on VHF Channel 09 to either the Coast Guard or someone who can offer you assistance. If you have a contract with a professional marine assistance company, you may call them directly.

Connecticut DEP Environmental Conservation Police vessels on patrol monitor Coast Guard frequencies and may respond to emergency or non-emergency situations. Also, you may accept help from a fellow mariner, local police or other agency. While good Samaritans are well meaning, they may not have the skills or knowledge to assist you effectively.


Towing is the act of taking a disabled vessel from one place to another when that vessel is not in any peril or immediate danger. This is usually a non-emergency case. When selecting a commercial marine assistance provider, make sure they are properly licensed, insured and have the proper equipment. No one may charge for a tow if the U.S. Coast Guard does not properly license him or her. Having a contract or membership with a commercial provider can save significant sums of money. In any case, try to obtain the hourly charges or a total cost prior to agreeing to any assistance.


Most boating fatalities are the results of capsizing or falls overboard. Non-fatal boating accidents are usually the results of a collision with another boat or an object in the water, such as rocks, pilings, or debris. Knowledge, a good lookout, common sense and courtesy could prevent most accidents.

 Most boating facilities occur in small open boats on small inland bodies of water in mid to late afternoon, on weekends during the summer. The weather is normally good, with calm winds and water and good visibilities. Approximately 90 percent of the fatalities are the result of drowning. The vast majority of those who die in boating accidents are not wearing a life jacket. Most accidents, capsizing, falls overboard and collisions are sudden and unexpected. Your life jacket could save your life, but only if you have it on. Make a habit of wearing them.

Boating, Alcohol and Drugs

No person may operate a vessel on the waters of Connecticut while intoxicated or while his/her ability is impaired by the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs.

On the water or on land, alcohol, even in small amounts, will affect one's ability to function in three critical areas. A person's balance, coordination and judgment are all in jeopardy when alcohol is consumed. In addition, stressors which fatigue and slow one's reaction time such as heat, glare, engine noise, vibration and the boats motion through the water, when combined with alcohol, can be deadly.

Falling overboard or capsizing causes most boating fatalities. A boat is an unstable platform even in calm water. After having a few drinks, a person may be able to regain his balance on land easily, but in a moving boat any movement to compensate for being unbalanced will only serve to upset the boat.

Alcohol will decrease a person's coordination. Simple tasks such as climbing a ladder to the flying bridge or reaching for a pair of sunglasses on the other side of the dash may become more difficult. More importantly, when a person who has been drinking is immersed in water, it is harder to swim or even don a life jacket. Alcohol will intensify the disorientation a person experiences when water enters the ear. Many good swimmers have drowned because the alcohol they consumed had distorted their ability to orient themselves in the water and caused them to swim down instead of to the surface.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol isn't digested like food, but is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the stomach walls. Food in your stomach slows down alcohol absorption, but the final amount of absorption is the same. The liver burns or oxidizes alcohol out of your body at a steady rate. If you drink faster than the alcohol can be  burned, there will be a greater level of alcohol in your blood. Blood alcohol content (BAC) may be estimated by referring to the Blood Alcohol Content Chart.

Homeland Security

Boaters must be cautious and constantly aware of surroundings. It is now illegal to stop or anchor beneath bridges. Secure and lock your boat when not on-board and, when stored, disable the engine. Avoid restricted areas such as dams, power plants, etc. and observe all security zones, especially around military installations.

Naval Vessel Protection Zone

You must stay at least 100 yards away from any military vessel and maintain minimum steerage speed within 500 yards. Violators face quick and severe response, not more than 6 years in prison and not more than a $250,000 fine.

  • You should report the following to the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Suspicious persons conducting unusual activities near security areas, bridges and near water.
  • People establishing roadside stands near marinas and waterfront facilities.
  • Unknown persons photographing or creating diagrams around power plants, under bridges, waterfront favilitys or any other high risk area.
  • Unknown or suspicious persons loitering around waterfront areas.
  • Suspicious persons attempting to borrow or rent watercraft.
  • Suspicious vendors attempting to sell or deliver merchandise or drop off packages in waterfront areas.

Safety and Security Zones

Boaters should not:

  • Enter buoyed areas off the Niantic Bay or Jordan Cove side of Dominion/Millstone Power Plant, Waterford, CT.
  • Enter waters within 100 yards of any anchored U.S. Coast Guard vessel.
  • Stop, moor, anchor or loiter beneath a bridge foundation, support, stanchion, pier or abutment except as required for the direct, expeditious transit beneath a bridge.

Last Updated: Fri, 06/14/2019 - 11:00am