Boating at night can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it is important to take extra precautions to stay safe. Visibility is lessened at nighttime because there are usually not many lights on the water. Plan your trip before going out on the open water to help make the expedition fun, safe, and fruitful (if you are night fishing). Here are some tips for safe nighttime boating.
Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back. This is important for any type of boating, but it's especially important for nighttime boating. Share your plan with a friend or family member, and let them know where you're going, what time you expect to leave, and what time you expect to be back.
Make sure your boat is well-lit. Your boat should have running lights, navigation lights, and stern lights. You may also want to have a spotlight or other searchlight to help you see in the dark. Spotlights can be disorienting for other boaters, so use them sparingly. If you do need to use a spotlight, point it away from other boats.
While most boats have lights on them from the manufacturer, you may want to invest in some other lights for extra visibility and a back-up plan if the manufacturer lights go out. It is important to make sure your boat's lights are working before taking off, but you never know when something may stop working. It is also important to know that some boats, like sailboats, may not have lighting on them, so you will definitely want to keep an eye out and always be aware of your surroundings.
It's harder to see at night, so it's important to slow down and be extra cautious. Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for other boats, debris, and other hazards.
It's important to wear a life jacket at all times when you're on a boat, but it's especially important at night. Choose a life jacket that fits snugly and is approved by the Coast Guard.
Be aware of your alcohol consumption. Alcohol can impair your judgment and coordination, so it's important to be careful about how much you drink when you're boating at night. If you do drink, make sure to have a designated driver who is not drinking.
Aside from having the safety gear and if alcohol is involved, it is also crucial to make sure you can take breaks if needed. Much like driving your vehicle, you should not be operating your boat if you are overly tired. Make sure you are able to either be fully rested before venturing out, or able to take breaks to rest as needed.
Make sure to have a GPS or chartplotter to help you navigate the water at night. This is especially important if you are not familiar with the area, but still helpful even if you are. Using these types of tools on your boat will help you stay safe and keep your boat in great condition.
Additionally, you need to be aware of the tides and currents. Tides and currents can be more difficult to see at night, so it's important to be aware of them before you go out. This will impact how you drive your boat and if you should be out on the water at all. Checking the local resources to see the tides and currents is extremely important.
Be prepared for emergencies. Make sure you have all of the necessary safety equipment on board, including a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and flares. You may also want to have a portable radio or cell phone in case you need to call for help.
By following these tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable nighttime boating experience. Whether you are fishing or just enjoying a night cruise, safety is always of the utmost importance – not only for you and your boat, but also for those around you.