Water Safety Protocol
At Ride the Ducks of Seattle, safety is our highest priority. For decades, we have partnered closely with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) to develop and implement strict internal protocols for weather and water-related safety.
Below is an overview of the measures in place to keep our guests and crew safe while enjoying Seattle’s unparalleled inland waterways.
- We only travel in the protected waters of Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal, no more than 1,000 feet from shore with multiple quick exit routes available.
- Weather monitoring begins in our daily morning briefings and continues throughout the day, using interactive Doppler radar, NWS and University of Washington wind forecasts, and via constant observation and communication with our USCG-licensed captains.
- If wind or bad weather is predicted or observed, we cancel or reroute tours, or eliminate the water portion.
- Our captains are instructed to err on the side of caution, and advise passengers to put on life preservers due to any circumstance that is out of the norm.
Our vessels are equipped with:
- Watertight bilge compartmentalization, designed to prevent sinking.
- Quick-release safety windows along the side of each Duck. The lever-activated windows automatically eject, providing immediate exit routes for passengers and crew.
- Retractable windshield for escape out of the front of the vessel.
- 65 or more USCG-approved life preservers, exceeding the maximum possible number of passengers and crew members onboard our vessels.
- Water-detection bilge alarms and bilge pumps that automatically begin emptying the hull.
- Comprehensive fire detection and suppression systems.
Training and Inspections:
- Operations crews perform safety drills at least every 90 days by meticulously practicing procedures for window release, man overboard and abandon ship scenarios.
- Our director of operations and safety officer regularly participate in routine safety inspections and discussions with local USCG officials to ensure our training and procedures align with their latest safety requirements and recommendations.
- All of our USCG-licensed captains hold at minimum a 25-ton Limited Local Merchant Mariner credential, have completed at least 240 hours of training and hold a minimum of 120 days of operational sea time.
Our Maintenance Team
The “Duck Nest” (as it’s affectionately called) is where our team of full-time maintenance technicians keeps our fleet of amphibious vehicles running smoothly. We are continually performing preventative maintenance and inspecting the Ducks to ensure that the highest standards of safety by both the Department of Transportation and the United States Coast Guard are exceeded. Our first priority is to ensure that our vehicles are the safest on Seattle’s roads and on the water.
Led by our Director of Maintenance, our team of heavy-duty mechanics works hard to keep our Ducks on the road and in the water and our guests safe.
All our Captains hold a Master’s license issued by the United States Coast Guard. In order to obtain a Master’s license, a mariner is required to have years of experience, be knowledgeable with the Code of Federal Regulations that deal with both the type of vessel operated and with the waters that they operate in, and pass a Federal security clearance. Tests to obtain this Merchant Mariner credential include the topics of weather, navigation, rules of the road, emergency procedures, and environmental hazards.
In addition to being licensed Masters of a vessel, our Captains hold a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement for the land portion of our tours. They are trained and certified in First Aid and CPR and complete an array of on-the-water emergency drills every 90 days. Ride the Ducks Captains undergo a medical examination at least every two years by a physician from the national registry of certified medical examiners.
As with all federally-licensed Merchant Mariners and Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers, our Captains/Drivers participate in a random drug testing program.