04 Oct Top Tips for Nighttime Boating
While boating at night can be relaxing and peaceful, it brings with it its own set of difficulties. The scenery can be beautiful and serene, but you never know what’s lurking below the surface. This is because you can’t see much of anything. That’s why many boaters keep their time on the water limited to daytime hours. However, you never know when plans are going to go awry or when you might have the desire to head out at night. Whatever the reason, it is imperative that you understand and know how to handle your boat at night so you can make it back home safely.
Just like everything in life, knowledge and preparation are vital. For those times you need help getting out of the darkness, check out these helpful night time boating tips.
Always be prepared – Even if you don’t plan on boating at night, go prepared every time you head out, just in case. This means carrying an emergency flashlight aboard, and even a pack of glow sticks can prove helpful. Also, always make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment onboard.
Have a second set of eyes – Your eyes can become tired and strained from the constant scanning, so make sure you have at least one other set of eyes onboard. Even if you have excellent vision, you can overlook certain obstructions.
Avoid unfamiliar waters – If you must boat at night, make sure you don’t use this opportunity to explore new, uncharted territory. Instead, for safety’s sake, stick with familiar waters and what you know.
Slow down – Even if you are already in a no wake zone, slow it down even more. A slow pace does much better in this environment because hazards and direction can be harder to distinguish at night.
Eliminate all distractions – While listening to music is enjoyable, turn it down or off. A too loud of a stereo can overpower the sound of a horn. Even too many lights can be hazardous, as it can compromise your night vision. It is best to eliminate any and all distractions if you find yourself out at night.
Bring a compass – Make sure to always have a compass on board to help you navigate back home. The best rule of thumb is to take note of the direction you are heading when you leave your home port. This way when it comes time to return, it’s simple to add or subtract 180 to know which way is home.
Avoid using spotlights and docking lights – Headlights, or docking lights, need to be kept off. You might think they will be helpful, but they will affect your night-vision. With spotlights, only turn them on for a moment or two, when needed. Any additional lights can blind or confuse other boaters, so only keep your navigation running lights turned on.
Utilize navigational tools – If you have the ability, purchase any or all of the following: a chartplotter, radar, GPS device, and a night vision scope. While these tools are excellent to help assist you, it is crucial that you do not rely on them entirely. Of course, purchasing a good old’ fashion compass is always smart in case your electronic device stops working.