Sandbar Party Boating Tips
Sandbar parties are incredibly popular amongst boaters, especially on holiday weekends in states like Florida. They’re a fun way to anchor down and party it up in shallow waters with friends.
If you’ve never been to a sandbar party, you’re in for a treat! Sandbars are beach-like spots in shallow water that boaters can anchor off nearby, and they attract a lot of interesting boaters who like to have wild parties on them.
While boating in popular party spots like sandbars is a hell of a lot of fun, it also comes with some dangers, mostly in the form of drunk boaters who may be partying just a little too hard. We’re not about to take all of the fun out of it, so here are some tips for boating happily and safely at sandbar parties.
Bring Plenty of Food and Drinks
Sandbar party or otherwise, any kind of boating day is going to bring hunger and thirst as the day goes by, so pack plenty of food, water and other beverages for the event. Alcohol and sandbar parties go hand-in-hand, so you can expect drunk boaters abound. Just make sure you stay sober if you’re the one piloting the boat, and have plenty of food and water available to sober up your passengers before you leave the sandbar.
Cookouts and sandbar parties also go hand-in-hand, so make sure you bring the boat grill and all of the grilling supplies you need to feed hungry partiers. One interesting thing about sandbar parties is that it’s not uncommon for strangers to swim up to your boat who want to come onboard to check it out, so you might end up feeding people you don’t even know. Or conversely, you could get treated to some tasty grub from somebody you just met. That’s all part of the fun!
Get Your Music Ready
Obviously sandbar parties are no place for rest and relaxation, and if you want your boat to play host to one for your friends, you’ll want to have some good marine audio equipment and a hot playlist ready to go.
One thing to keep in mind is there will be plenty of other boats around blasting their own music, so you might have dueling speakers with other boats. Have a good playlist going, but also don’t try to drown out other boats’ music. Keep your speakers at a volume loud enough for your guests to hear, but not so loud you’ll enter into a music battle with another boat. Remember you’re there to have fun, not fight.
Bring Water Toys
What’s a sandbar party without some floats and pong tables and other water toys? Part of the fun about sandbar parties is the ease of “rafting up,” where a group of boats toss a line to connect to each other around a sandbar. Throw in some fun inflatables and you’ll have one hell of an aquatic playground.
Expect Strangers to Approach Your Boat
As mentioned earlier, with so many boats so closely anchored together, part of the fun is having curious strangers swim up to your boat and strike up a conversation. If they’re boat aficionados, they’ll likely want to check out your boat out and “talk shop”. And if you have a water slide on your boat, be extra prepared for strangers to want to come onboard to use it.
You might get the occasional unwelcome obnoxious drunk wanting to climb aboard your boat and cause trouble, but for the most part you’ll meet some interesting people swimming up to your boat and possibly make a new friend or networking connection.
Prepare for Reckless Boaters
Because these parties draw large crowds, you’ll likely encounter some inexperienced boaters who don’t know how to navigate or properly anchor off a busy sandbar. People who don’t own boats but don’t want to miss a good sandbar party often rent boats without really knowing how to pilot them. So keep a sharp eye out for unsafe boaters, and stay alert and be prepared to react to reckless boating maneuvers.
Expect Law Enforcement
With big parties where alcohol is involved, you’re guaranteed to see law enforcement on high alert patrolling the area. They’ll be out checking to make sure sandbar goers are safe, and that boat captains are navigating and anchoring responsibly. You should always practice boating safety no matter what, but make extra sure for these events that you have all of the personal safety and survival equipment required by law in case they decide to board your boat.
Sandbar Party Additional Safety Tips
Besides the safety precautions already mentioned, here are some additional sandbar boating safety tips to keep in mind.
- Before heading to the sandbar, make sure you have extra life vests for any additional passengers you weren’t expecting, along with all the USCG required safety equipment.
- Make sure you have an anchor, dock lines and fenders to keep the boats from rocking back and forth against each other in case you’re going to raft up.
- When rafting up, make sure nobody swims in between the boats, as this can cause serious bodily harm if the boats clash.
- As you're coming into the sandbar party, approach with the engine in idle, and pay attention to your depth finder to make sure you don’t run your boat aground. Make sure you allow the boat to pivot so it’s anchored facing away from the sandbar, then turn off and trim up the engine.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife preserves near the sandbar, and make sure you and your passengers steer clear of them.
- Pay attention to the weather conditions, as some sandbars are often exposed enough to wade in at low tide, but can get too deep at high tide. Monitor conditions to make sure you’re anchored and can depart safely if an abrupt change occurs.