†††††††††††††††††† MWR SHERMAN COVE MARINA

Sherman Cove Marina Boating Requirements

  (A) United States Coast Guard Federal Requirements for recreational boats.

†††† (B) Florida Marine Patrol Florida Boaters Guide U.S. Naval Safety Center Small Boat Qualification Guide

†††† (C) United States Coast Guard Station Pensacola, Florida advice and assistance

1.    Sherman Cove Marina is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable recreation environment. This comprehensive booklet sets forth safety requirements to be observed by all boat operators at this facility. This book draws heavily on guidance contained in the references cited above.

2.    Prior to operating a rental boat from Sherman Cove Marina, patrons will be given a Boat Operators Examination based on the requirements contained in this booklet. Upon successful completion of the operators test, patrons will be permitted to operate rental boats.



††††† Just as car drivers must follow certain regulations on the highway, there are basic safety rules that must be followed on the water to make boating safer and more enjoyable for everyone. This booklet was written for the safe boat handling of watercraft for Sherman Cove Marina. It does not cover every situation. You, the operator, must apply the common sense and safe boating procedures.


††††† The U.S. Coast Guard has enforcement authority on Federal water (generally coastal waters, rivers, and lakes that are more than one state). In addition, each state has enforcement officers responsible for all state waters. Sherman Cove Marina water encompasses salt water controlled be Florida Marine Patrol, plus the U.S. Coast Guard. We also have marina personnel designated as boat safety enforcement personnel for rental boats. They may restrict your operation of MWR boats or accessories when situations are deemed unsafe.

†††† In their jurisdiction, enforcement officers have authority to stop and board boats to check for compliance with the federal or state law. The conditions listed below are considered unsafe.

  1.    Inadequate number of PFDs or fire extinguisher

  2.    Overloading (Check capacity plate info.)

  3.    Fuel Leakage

  4.    Failure to display required navigation lights

  5.    Drinking and driving

  6.    Improper and unsafe use of equipment

  7.    Failure to use safe boating procedures

  8.    Speeding and reckless operation

  9.    Fuel accumulation (other than fuel tank)

10.     Failure to meet safety requirements

†††††††††††††††††††††† SAFETY GUIDELINES

† In the event of an emergency while underway, to increase your chances of a fast recovery, know how to use your distress signals. The most frequently recognized distress signal for small boats is to raise and lower your outstretched arms repeatedly. Another commonly used distress signal is the use of an orange flag.

† All boats must be able to produce audible navigational signals. Audible signals such as whistles, horns, or bells can prevent collisions in narrow restrictive waterways. They must be given and returned as follows:

  A.    One Blast- I will leave you on my Starboard

  B.    Two Blast- I will leave you on my port

  C.    Three Blasts- My engines are in reverse

  D.    Five Blasts- Danger

††††† Boats less than 26 Feet in length are not required to carry a fire extinguisher unless construction could entrap flammable gases of vapors, but it is recommended they do. If you carry one in your boat, be sure it is accessible and be familiar with operating instructions.

††††† Other safety equipment includes and anchor, anchor line, oars, and mooring line. All MWR boats have boat numbers stenciled on them. Boat issue personnel at Sherman Cove also monitor Channel 16 on VHF


††††† Never run, between a towboat and her tow. The towline may only be submerged a few feet.


††††† Many bodies of water used by boaters are located entirely within the boundaries of the state. The uniform state waterway marking system has been devised for inland waters. Two categories of waterway markers are employed. One category is a system of aids to navigation used to make safe channels and obstructions or hazards. On state waters, red and green buoys mark channel limits and are generally used in pairs. A boat should pass between a red buoy and its companion green buoy. The other category is a system of regulatory markers, buoys, and signs. The markers show bright geometric shapes and black lettering on a white background. They identify speed zones and restricted areas, warn of danger, and give information.


††††† Coast Guard studies indicate that as many as 50% of all boating accidents may be alcohol related. To learn how drinking affects boating, we must first look at how alcohol affects people. Although alcohol has been used since about 8,000 B.C., there are still many myths about alcohol that are not true:

MYTH: Beer is less intoxicating than other alcoholic beverages.

FACT: One 12oz. Can of beer, one 6oz. Glass of wine, or one shot of 80 proof liquor all contain about the same amount of alcohol and have the same effect.

MYTH: A cold shower, a walk in the fresh air, or black coffee will sober you up.

FACT: Once you have consumed alcohol, nothing will sober you up except time. You body will metabolize about one ounce of alcohol per hour. If you are legally drunk, it will take about seven hours to sober up.


1.    Balance- Balance is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol. The problem is that you may not notice the reduction in ability and a small boat is very unforgiving.

2.    †Coordination- As the amount of alcohol you drink increases, your ability to coordinate your arm and leg movements are reduced. A drunken boater will have great difficulty trying to swim to a life saving device, let alone put it on, despite skill or ability while sober.

††††† Alcohol reduces your ability to distinguish between colors, particularly red and green, such as running lights on a boat. Combining all these effects the wrong amount of light entering the eye, poor focus or double vision, loss of depth perception, tunnel vision, and the inability to distinguish color is very dangerous.


††††† A responsible boat operator will always keep abreast of changing weather conditions and will never leave a dock while small craft advisories are posted. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) transmits weather forecasts and issues small craft advisories which may be obtained from:

1.    Boat issue personnel

2.    Local radio stations

3.    National Weather Service (U.S. Commerce Department)

4.    Marinas And Yacht Clubs which fly storm warnings

5.    Marina VHF-NOAA broadcasts weather information and any storm warnings every four to six minutes.


††††† Destructive weather conditions are of particular concern to the recreational boater. Sudden weather changes are common in the vicinity of Sherman Cove Marina. It is always the boat operatorís responsibility to be aware of weather conditions and to seek safety when threatening weather approaches.

††††† Additionally, boat issue personnel at Sherman Cove closely monitor weather conditions and will restrict or secure boating as conditions warrant. Personal safety is the primary concern in decisions to restrict or secure boating. Boat issue personnel are the final authority in decisions to secure boating in the interests of personal safety.

††††† Because weather conditions may change suddenly, boat recall procedures are followed at Sherman Cove Marina. When conditions warrant, Sherman Cove will fly one of two flags on the flagpole at the waterfront. At this time, all watercraft are to be returned to Sherman Cove without delay, for every personís safety. The two flags are a red triangle and a red square with a black square inside.

††††† The following weather conditions will affect boating operations at Sherman Cove Marina.

SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS- Boat recall procedures are implemented and boating is secured. Identifier: Red triangular flag

THUNDERSTORM CONDITION- Boat recall procedures are implemented and boating is secured. Identifier: red square flag with Black Square inside

††††† NOTE: Even if one of these two conditions has not been issued, Sherman Cove Staff have the authority to secure boating activities if conditions deem necessary. Whenever inclement weather arises, the operator should find the safest harbor available and contact Sherman Cove. If there is lightening present, everyone must get on land. On the water, you are an excellent conductor of electricity. If assistance is required, call Sherman Cove Marina at 850-452-3369.

HURRICANE< TROPICAL STORM< AND GALE CONDITIONS- Boat issue personnel will restrict or secure boating depending on condition in effect.


††††† Most boating fatalities are the result of a capsizing or fall overboard. Most non-fatal boating accidents are the result of a collision with another boat or an object on the water, such as rocks, pilings, or debris. A little knowledge, common sense, and courtesy could prevent most accidents.

††††† Most boating fatalities occur in small open boats on small inland bodies of water in mid to late afternoon, on weekends during the summer months. The weather is normally good, with calm winds, water, and good visibility. Approximately 90% of the fatalities are the result of drowning, and nearly 80% of those who die in boating accidents do not use a PFD. Most accidents, capsizing, falls overboard, and collisions are a sudden unexpected occurrence. You have little if any warning ahead of time to prepare for it. You PFD could save your life, but it will be of little use to you if you donít wear it.



††††† Improper fueling procedures are the cause of most fires onboard vessels. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air, and spread rapidly. It is important to check closed compartments for gasoline vapors.


  1.    Moor boat securely to dock

  2.    Remove all passengers

  3.    Extinguish all galley fires and smoking materials

  4.    Shut off all engines and electrical equipment

  5.    Close all hatches and ports

  6.    Fill approved portable tanks on dock

  7.    Keep fuel nozzle in contact with fill opening

  8.    Wipe up any spillage, check for any leaks

  9.    Put caps on tight

 10. Never start engines until all traces of fuel vapors are gone

 11. Secure all fuel tanks before leaving docks

 12. Never store any portable tanks in an interior compartment


††††† All motorboat operators should be aware of the two flags used to indicate the presence of divers. The official flag, ALFA, is an internationally recognized indicator for all diving operations. ALFA is a Blue and White Flag, the left half of the flag is white and the right half is blue. Any vessel displaying the ALFA flag is to be considered restricted in its ability to maneuver and should be afforded the right of way. The second flag, probably seen most often, is the red flag with a white diagonal stripe. Boat operators should be afforded the same privileges as vessels displaying the ALFA flag.

††††† Under no circumstances should any vessel approach within 100 feet of any craft or object displaying either flag.


††††† National Safety council statistics show that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths (behind auto accidents) for those aged 1-44. Most of the 6,000-8,000 people who drown never intended to be in the water and were unprepared to be in the water. Sadly, most drownings occur within a few feet of safety.

††††† A non-swimmer is a person who cannot support himself in the water.† A drowning victim will not normally call out for help; he is to busy trying to breathe.† He may struggle on the surface for a few seconds, and then go under.† If you throw him a PFD or other object to help him stay afloat, he may not be able to be close enough for a non-swimmer.† Make sure you put the object within grasp of the person in trouble.†

††††† To get a person out of the water, approach slowly and stop the motor when alongside.† Try to bring the person in, preferably over the stern.† Balance the boat so it doesnít roll too much when people crawl aboard.† Do not overload the boat.† Try throwing a life ring or float to a person requiring help, then proceed to help the person out of the water.†

††††† If you plan swimming from your boat in unfamiliar area, use caution.† Go in feet first, slowly.† Never dive in.† There is no swimming, skiing, or tubing from any of Sherman Cove rental boats.


††††† The operator of a boat must always watch for other boats, swimmers, shallow areas, and obstructions in the water.† While underway, if the water seems to become lighter, this indicates that the water is getting shallow.† Because it is hard to tell how shallow the water is, the best procedure to follow is: slow down, raise the motor, and steer clear of the area.† By doing this you have a better chance of avoiding damages.†

††††† Whenever the boat is to be brought to shore, the operator should: slow down when approaching shore, raise the motor as to not let it hit the bottom, and when in approximately 3 feet of water, the motor should be turned off and the boat walked ashore.

††††† When you decide to dock the boat, use this procedure in order to avoid injury or damage.† With the motor at IDLE SPEED, bring the boat parallel to the side of the dock you wish to use, once you are almost in position, put the motor in reverse and give it only enough throttle to stop the boat, then put the boat in neutral and turn off.

††††† REMEMBER:† Many damage-producing areas are in shallows at points and sandbars, near fishing and swimming areas, and cables from buoy and channel markers.† Also keep a watch for floating debris.†††


1.        Most practical situation upon the water involves more than two vessels operating under less than ideal conditions.† In such multiple vessel encounters, all mariners should exercise good seamanship, operate at a safe speed, and if ever in doubt as to the intentions of another vessel, immediately sound the danger signal, slacken speed, or stop the vessel until danger or a collision passes.

2.        Donít be stubborn, even if you are entitles to the right of way-you may be dead right.† Exercise prudent seamanship in all close quarters situation.† Again, if at any time you are in doubt as to the intentions of another vessel, sound the danger signal and take necessary action to avoid collision.† Remember that there are a lot of operators on the water who donít know the first thing about boating, not to mention the rules of the road.†

Always look behind you before making turns.† Some boats follow to closely and boats have no breaks.† The only means of avoiding accidents is turning or cutting your speed.†

Responsibilities Between Vessels:

Who has the right of way?

A power-driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of:

  1.        A vessel not under command (unable to maneuver).

  2.        A vessel restricted to her ability to maneuver.†

  3.        A vessel engaged in fishing (does not include trolling lines fishing)

  4.        A sailing vessel

As a small boat operator in Floridaís harbors and river, you should be aware of the maneuvering characteristics and limitation of large vessels, especially congested waters.†

††††† As a general rule, itís best to avoid hampering the progress of any large vessels can only operate in the navigable channels whereas your boat may safely navigate in very little water.† If you feel you need to stay within the designated channel due to your draft, observe good seamanship and keep as far to the right side of the channel as is safe and practical for your vessel.†

††††† Another thing to remember is that large vessels, even at slow speed; may throw a large wake.† Large, deeply laden vessels can also take up to a half-mile or more to come to a complete execute an emergency maneuver to avoid running you down.† Large vessels have extreme momentum behind them.† When meeting them upon the water, a little common sense and courtesy goes a long way.†

††††† Always exercise particular caution when encountering these large and less maneuverable vessels.† Never hamper the progress of these vessels and always take ample and sufficient action to avoid a close quarters situation.

††††† The waters in the general operating area for MWR boat have barges undertow, sail boats, shrimp and fishing boats, and party boats of all sizes.† It is extremely important for the boat operator to pay strict attention to the surroundings.† When in doubt, give way to other vessels.†

††††† Police Boats.† Law enforcement vessels engaged in enforcement activities may display a flashing blue light.† When you see such lights, slacken speed, yield right of way, or if necessary stop your vessel.


††††† When getting underway, be careful to load your boat properly. You should enter a small boat by stepping into the center of the boat. Distribute the load evenly for and aft, and side-to-side. Donít overload the boat, it will reduce stability and make capsizing or falling overboard more likely. Use our boats capacity plate guide.


When underway, always:

1.    Be thoroughly familiar with the way the boat handles. Know the stopping distances, turning radius, and most efficient cruise speeds.

2.    Avoid taking risks (negligent operation) that could endanger life, limb, or property.

3.    Know your position and where you are going

4.    Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and be prepared to act if the water or weather conditions become hazardous.

5.    Never leave your engine running when picking-up/loading persons from the water.

6.    Never jump or dive from the boat.

7.    Know and practice the rules of the road.

8.    Stop to render assistance to others. The Good Samaritan rule in the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 will protect you from liability if you act reasonably and prudently.

9.    Exercise courtesy and common sense. This will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.

10.                Use the following rule to prevent running out of fuel: 1/3 going out, 1/3 coming back, 1/3 reserve.

11.                Only carry as many people as your boat is designed to hold.

†††† †Never allow people to ride on the bow outside of gates, seat backs, or gunwales. Riding in such positions makes a fall overboard more likely. Standing up in a small boat reduces stability.


††††† The navigation rules are internationally accepted standard by which all mariners are to comply when operating any vessel upon the water. Basically, the rules require that every operator conduct his vessel in a prudent manner, at a safe speed, constantly maintaining a proper lookout by all means available to him.

††††† The Navigation Rules established actions to be taken by vessels to avoid collision. The vessel operator is responsible for knowing and following applicable navigation rules. Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and other periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.).


††††† When two vessels are approaching at perpendicular or oblique angles, the vessel, which has the other on her starboard side shall keep out of the way of the other vessel. The rules allow either vessel to initiate the one blast in this situation, which should then be answered, by one blast from the other vessel.


††††† When two vessels are approaching at perpendicular on reciprocal courses in a head on or nearly so situation, both vessels should exchange one blast and pass with safe room on each otherís portside. In this situation, neither boat has the right of way.

††††† The U.S. Coast Guard requires boats, which are 16 feet, and longer to be equipped with a type I, II, III, or V wearable flotation device for each person on board, plus one type IV (cushion or life ring). Passengers 13 years of age and younger must wear their life jackets as long as the boat is underway.


††††† The Refuse Act of 1992 prohibits throwing, discharging, or depositing any refuse matter of any kind (including trash, garbage, oil and other liquid pollutants) into the waters of the United States.


††††† All boating accidents or accidents resulting from the use of related equipment must be reported by the operator or owner of the vessel to the proper marine law enforcement authority for the states in which the accident occurred. All accidents must be reported the MWR boat issue personnel as soon as possible if accident occurred with an MWR rental boat.


††††† A vessel underway, when hailed by a Coast Guard vessel, is required to heave to, or maneuver in such a manner that permits a boarding officer to come aboard. Other Federal, State, and Local law enforcement officials may board and examine your vessel.

††††† The Coast Guard may impose a civil penalty up to $1,000 for failure to: comply with numbering requirements, equipment requirements, not reporting a boating accident, or meeting other rules of the road (Inland navigation rules act of 1980) can result in civil penalty up to $5,000.

††††† Operating a vessel while intoxicated became a specific federal offense effective January 13,1988. The final rule set standards for determining when an individual is intoxicated. The BAC is .10% for operators of a recreational vessel being used only for pleasure. Violators are subject to civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 or criminal penalty not to exceed $5,000, 1-year imprisonment or both, and active duty military personnel are also subject to Non-Judicial punishment.

†††† Law prohibits NEGLIGENT or GROSSLY NEGLIGENT OPERATION of a vessel, which endangers lives and property. The Coast Guard may impose a civil penalty for negligent operation. Grossly negligent operation is a criminal offense and an operator may be fined up to $5,000, imprisoned for one year, or both. If operators of an MWR boat are found to have negligently damaged MWR property, they can be held liable for reimbursement for the damage caused, and disciplinary action may be taken. Some examples of actions that may constitute negligent or grossly negligent operations are:

1.    Operating a boat in a swimming area

2.    Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

3.    Excessive speed in the vicinity of other boats or in dangerous waters

4.    Hazardous water skiing practices

5.    Bow-Riding, also riding on a seat back, gunwale or transom

6.    Hanging or dragging from the boat

7.    Operating the boat or accessories in an unsafe manner


††††† Most adults need an extra seven to twelve ponds of buoyancy to keep their heads above water. A PFD can provide that ďextra liftĒ to keep you afloat until help comes. Your weight isnít the only factor in how much ďextra liftĒ you need. A personís body fat, lung size, clothing, and the water conditions also play an important role.

††††† When selecting a PFD, read the label to make sure it is for a person your size and weight. You also need to consider the type of boating you will be doing and the area you plan to do it in. Try your PFD on to make sure it fits properly and check to make sure it is Coast guard approved (MWR PFDs are Coast Guard approved).


Follow these points to be sure your PFD stays in good condition:

1.    Donít alter your PFD. If yours doesnít fit, get one that does. Play it safe. An altered PFD may not save your life.

2.    Donít put heavy objects on your PFD or use it for a kneeling pad or boat fender. PFDs lose buoyancy when crushed.


††††† After PFDs, the next most important item of equipment is a fire extinguisher. Although boat fires are not a leading cause of fatalities or injuries, they do cause most of the property damage involved in boating.


††††† All vessels should carry an anchor and anchor line of sufficient weight and strength to provide safe anchorage.

††††† Generally speaking, boat operators should carry an anchor which when planted in the bottom can hold a vessel when subjected to the worst conditions of wind and tide. The anchor line in turn should be between four and seven times the depth of water normally anchored in. Remember, donít anchor in navigational channels or tie your boat to channel buoys or markers unless under emergency conditions. Always drop the anchor over the bow of the boat.


††††† Recreational boats must display their required navigation lights at all times between sunset and sunrise, and during daylight periods of reduced visibility.


††††† Most boaters fish from time to time. A motorboat makes it possible to fish in out-of-the-way places. If cruising, steer clear of fisherman. They may have lines or nets out which might be cut if you come to close. Slow down while approaching fishing boats. Donít return to cruising speed until the boats have been passed. If a fishing boat is anchored, a large wake could flip or swamp the boat, upset fishing gear, or pull the anchor loose from the bottom.

††††† The Florida State Law states that you are responsible for damage caused by your boatís wake when passing other boats or swimmers, or when docking. When fishing form your boat, never anchor in shipping channels or tie up to navigational aids. These must be kept clear at all times.


††††† Operating boundaries for boats from Sherman Cove Marina have been established for the protection of boaters. On the map ďAREA AĒ shows all of the water of the Big Lagoon as far west as the Perdido Key Bridge Arch. ďAREA B is the Southwest portion of Pensacola bay bounded by a line drawn from Nas Lexington Pier to the Coast Guard Station of Santa Rosa Island. The Southern boundary line is Buoy 10.


††††† Seafarers use the phrase ďRED RIGHT RETURNINGĒ to remind them of their corrections course between red and green buoys when returning to the harbor. It means that red buoys always mark the right side of the channel when returning from the open sea (or going upstream in a river). The opposite also holds true. When leaving port heading down stream toward sea, red buoys are on the left and green buoys are on the right. You can tell which side of the channel a buoy is on by its color, shape and number. Red Buoys are always even-numbered. Green Buoys are odd-numbered.

††††† Sometimes buoys are missing, adrift, or off the charted position or station. Heavy storms, unusual tides, or Collisions may cause a buoy to move. Even buoys on the correct location should be passed at a distance. They may be very close to danger, which they mark.


††††† When out on the water, remember you are sharing it with others. Keep a sharp lookout for other boats, skiers and other hazards. A little common sense will go along way in preventing mishaps. The future of renting boats will be dependent upon caution and courtesy of all renters.


††††† In order to be able to rent any MWR rental boat you must take the skipper card test in the Marina Office to receive a SKIPPERíS CARD. You also must have at least two people in order to take out any rental boat; the youngest person considered of the two people is 9 years old. The reason for this requirement is a safety issue.†