Boating Safety Lessons From a Classic TV Show

Saturday, April 4, 2015


This Saturday we are republishing a boating safety article from the past that is based on a classic American TV show. Despite the age of the show, the same boating mistakes are still being made by modern mariners.

If you are old enough you probably remember the S.S. Minnow from the 1960’s Sitcom Gilligan’s Island. That voyage was crewed by a mighty sailing man (Gilligan) and a sure and brave skipper. They were only going to be out for a three hour tour but ran into some bad weather.

What most people don’t know is that the brave and sure skipper never filed a Float Plan, failed to check the weather forecast, and did not carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB. These deficiencies delayed search efforts for weeks and making locating them on an uncharted deserted island almost impossible.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary strongly suggests that all recreational boaters, regardless of the size of their boat, carry with them not only the federal and local mandated safety equipment, but also a VHF Radio and a (EPIRB), which are not mandated.

If the Minnow carried an EPIRB there never would have been a series since the five passengers and crew would have been located very quickly. The filing of a Float Plan ( with friends, relatives and your marina enables these people to inform the Coast Guard when you don’t arrive at the point that you are supposed to when you are expected to arrive. When properly completed the Float Plan contains information to make the search faster and easier. In the case of the Minnow no one knew they were overdue for several weeks. A Float Plan asks such questions as what type of boat, what is your proposed itinerary, do you have a radio, how many people on board, etc. The answers can shorten the process of locating a missing boater.

Although we have made a little light out of the voyage of the Minnow, safe boating and seamanship is no joke. For more information about safe boating, check out the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at

Disclaimer: This article is not a message of endorsement  by the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for any commercial product or TV show.

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  1. Walter Imperatore says:

    Great, entertaining, informative, eye-catching message. Thanks.

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