FLORIDA — With Memorial Day weekend in full swing, the National Weather Service is hoping that its annual National Boat Safety Week will help better educate boaters heading out on the water.

These lesson are especially important here in Florida.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida boating accidents, injuries and deaths all increased in 2020 compared to 2019

  • Florida had the most recreational boating accidents nationwide in 2019

  • Brevard County ranked #12 in the State of Florida when it comes to boating accidents

Last year saw the most reportable boating accidents in the past decade, with 836 recorded. The next closest year came in 2017, when there were 766 such incidents, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The agency’s annual report also showed 2020 had the most deaths in the past decade with 79. The last time there were more than 70 fatalities related to boating incidents came in 2014 when there were 73. 

Aside from a slight decrease from 2011 to 2012, the number of vessel registrations has generally increased in the 2010’s. 

Injuries from boating incidents also notched above the 500 mark in 2020. It was the first time that happened in the past decade.

According to the FWC report, Brevard County ranked 12th highest when it comes boating accidents, with 22 accidents, seven injuries and one death reported in 2020. 

Earlier this year, Brunswick Corporation decided to launch a pilot program to help educated new and more experienced boaters called “BoatClass.”

The 3-hour course is designed to help build the confidence of those who are heading out on the water. 

“Our goal in this is be able to get more people out on the beautiful waters, out enjoying boating and that’s really the idea of what BoatClass is all about,” said Chris Kelly, the co-owner of Freedom Boat Club of the Space and Treasure Coast. The organization is a subsidiary of Brunswick. 

The courses are taught by U.S. Coast Guard-certified captains. And it offers a course taught entirely on a boat as opposed to part of it being split inside a classroom.

“When you're out on the boat, you can actually visualize what's going on and you're like 'Oh, OK great,'" said Capt. Mike Berry, one of the instructors. "You get a better feel for what's going on.” 

To learn more about the course, click here. To learn more about National Boat Safety Week and other safety measures, click here.