Rockets Red Glare! A Guide To Enjoying Fireworks On The Water

June 25, 2012

About the only way to make a Fourth of July fireworks display even more spectacular is to watch it from your boat. Not only do you get to enjoy the relatively cooler temperatures as the evening sets in, you essentially get double the show because of the reflections off the surface of the water. If this is your first time to venture out on the water at night, let’s just say it will be tough to spend an Independence Day on terra firma ever again.

Sure, it takes a little planning to get ready for an on-the-water fireworks display, but the extra effort is worth it to ensure that your crew will have a fun, safe and memorable night. The two biggest challenges? Well, it will be dark, of course, and more than likely, you won’t be the only one out there with this great idea. As long as you keep those two things in mind and follow these tips, things should go smoothly. 


Well before you get underway, take time to check that all running and anchor lights are working properly. And make sure you have all of your safety equipment including a whistle (or other approved noise-making advice) and a life jacket for everyone on board. Sometimes you’ll have more passengers than usual for a special trip like this, so a life-jacket count is important. Remember that water-enforcement authorities will be out in force.


Make sure you have ear protection for children or hearing-sensitive adults. The sound of exploding fireworks is greatly amplified across open water. And while they may love being part of the action on most boat trips, please leave your pets at home. The disorienting lights and loud sounds can cause anxiety in even the calmest animal. And there are already enough distractions for the captain and crew.


Find a good spot well before the show starts. Whether you’re beaching, rafting with other boats, or dropping anchor in open water, you will not regret getting there a little early and staking your claim (well outside the restricted area around the launching platform) while there’s still some daylight. This will help ensure that you’ve chosen a spot well out of the main channel where all the latecomers will be rushing in to find any remaining anchorages.


For the safety of your passengers and other boaters, keep libations off limits for the captain and vital crew. You will have plenty of things to keep track of before, during and after the show. Keep your wits about you and don’t “be that guy.”


Don’t add to the show. That means turning off all non-required lights onboard and never launch your own fireworks from the boat. No spotlights, no flashlights, no sparklers. It just detracts from the viewing experience for your boat and everyone around you. And keep your radio off or turned down. There will be plenty of ambient noise and sounds to keep you occupied.


Finally, after the show, don’t be in a hurry to leave. Most accidents happen when there’s a mad dash back to the dock. Often the ones in a hurry have not heeded the advice to stay away from the holiday “spirits.” You’ve already taken the time to get set up and properly anchored. Enjoy the mass exodus and a sky full of stars while the crowds file out of the area.

Enjoying a fireworks show from the water is one of the great delights for any boating family. It’s an experience you won’t forget. And with a few precautions and a little planning, you can make it a memorable experience you can enjoy safely.