SAFETY TIPS FOR BOATING AT NIGHT
Boating under the stars sounds relaxing and romantic. Unlike during the day, however, cruising at night is much more dangerous. You can’t see as much, so you have to follow safety precautions to lessen your chances of having a boating accident. Here are some important safety tips for boating at night.
HAVE PROPER LIGHTING
Boat lights are important so you remain visible in the dead of the night and in the middle of the water. Before going on your trip, you have to physically check your boat lights and make sure each one is working. Make sure your navigation lights are properly installed. They must also be positioned optimally and without any obstructions, so those other vessels will be able to see your boat from every direction. Also, turn on your lights as soon as it starts to get dark.
TURN DOWN AMBIENT LIGHTS
Though navigation lights are crucial to your safety, it is better to dim all your other light sources. In low-light conditions, your eyes lose colour vision and will just see lighter and darker shades. Bright ambient light from electronics and cabin lights interferes with your eyes’ ability to adjust to the darkness. Thus, your night vision is impaired. As a safety precaution, tone down your lights so that you’re able to see more clearly in the dark. Moreover, ambient lights can blind or confuse other boaters as they tend to reflect off the water and appear much brighter. Other boaters may not be able to see your navigational lights well.
CRUISE AT SLOW SPEEDS
Even if there aren’t a lot of boats in the water, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely alone. At night, floating objects are also not visible until they’re up close. Both of these increase your chances of water collisions as you’re unable to maneuver quickly if operating at faster speeds. Because the darkness restricts visibility, it’s best to operate at a safe speed. This means you’re able to stop and avoid a collision. Human error can also be a contributing factor as reaction times may be slower at nighttime. Cruising at slower speeds lessens the possibility of boat manage or injury to your passengers.
HAVE A LOOKOUT
Apart from the captain, make sure you have another set of eyes – someone who is monitoring your surroundings. A lookout shall have eagle eyes and is reliable. This person will alert the captain of incoming obstacles or dangers. To help the lookout, reduce noise that comes from televisions, stereos, electronic gadgets and other passengers.
TRUST YOUR TECH
Technology has come a long way and there are now a lot of boating gadgets that we can rely on. At night, your depth perception is lost so distances can be quite deceiving. You also lose sight of identifiable landmarks and you can’t rely on previous knowledge of your surroundings. As such, you must trust the data that’s presented by your chart plotter, GPS, radar and other devices. Just make sure that they’re all working properly before heading out to the water.
In case your lights go out because of technical or mechanical difficulties, you must always have safety equipment such as an emergency flashlight. Each passenger shall also have a glow stick so that if someone falls overboard, he or she can be easily spotted. If you’re often boating at night, it may also be wise to invest in night vision goggles.
Boating at night is an experience to be desired. Who doesn’t want to cruise calm waters with the stars twinkling above them? Well, just like any other experience in the water, safety must always come before one’s enjoyment. Make sure to follow these safety precautions to prevent collisions or accidents from happening. If you’re safe, the better you’ll enjoy your boating experience a whole lot more.
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