The festive and summery Independence Day weekend is here!

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Celebrating the Fourth of July holiday this year means a three-day weekend for many and some extra time to truly relax, enjoy and play out on the water.

Grand Valley Marine, with locations in Grandville and Grand Haven, urges for you to keep you, those around you and others as safe as possible on the water when out boating.

Embrace the three-day Independence Day weekend, enjoy the great outdoors on the water -- and at the beach -- and stay safe by following the rules of the water and navigational regulations. On a festive weekend like this, too, don't drink and boat!

John F. Martin/Getty Images

Remember this when boating: It isn't a car a truck, a motorcycle or a bicycle; it's a watercraft. However, like when driving motor vehicles on land, you should not drink and drive on the water. You don't want to land a BUI (boating under intoxication) charge.

Boating, fishing and other water sports are fun in their own right. Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into a problem or tragedy.

Did you know that:

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
  • A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a driver, drink for drink?
  • The penalties for BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms?
  • The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities?

Consider these alternatives to using alcohol while afloat:

Paul Anderson
  • Take along a variety of cool drinks, such as sodas, water, iced tea, lemonade or non-alcoholic beer.
  • Bring plenty of food and snacks.
  • Wear clothes that will help keep you and your passengers cool.
  • Plan to limit your trip to a reasonable time to avoid fatigue. Remember that it's common to become tired more quickly on the water.
  • If you want to make alcohol part of your day's entertainment, plan to have a party ashore at the dock, in a picnic area, at a boating club, at a beach or campground where it's permitted or in your backyard. Choose a location where you'll have time between the fun and getting back into your car or boat.
  • If you dock somewhere for lunch or dinner and drink alcohol with your meal, wait a reasonable time (estimated at a minimum of an hour per drink) before operating your boat.
  • Having no alcohol while aboard is the safest way to enjoy the water. Plus, intoxicated passengers are also at risk of injury and falls overboard.

There are dangers involved with BUI, like DUI. Many recreational boaters forget that a boat is a vehicle -- and that safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility.

Please think, act and embrace staying safe, being responsible and using common sense when boating.

Also, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding boaters and anglers that with the holiday weekend to clean boats, trailers and equipment before and after use to prevent introducing and spreading aquatic invasive species in Michigan.