The dos and donts of night boating:
Dockshare’s tips to keep the captain and crew safe at night
With summer in full swing, the days are longer- which means daytime activities tend to flow into the evening with night boating! Being on the water after dark requires more caution and concern. Below are several guidelines to help you safely guide your crew on the water at night:
1. Pack Accordingly
2. Reduce your speed and stay alert
3. Assign an extra lookout
The captain has an important job focusing on driving the boat. It doesn’t hurt to share the lookout job between other on board. Things like crab pots and debris can be very difficult to spot from any distance at night. Keep those eyes open!
4. Pay attention to the lights
Dim your cabin lights as much as possible. Your night vision is enhanced with dimmer lights because your eyes must adjust and can see the surrounding darkness better. Bright lights pollute the surrounding field of vision and your eyes can no longer see into the night as well. Additionally, pay attention to the red and green running and marker lights. Entering a harbor, follow the rule: Red, Right, Returning which means keep the red lights to starboard to stay in a safe channel.
5. Use and trust your tools
Chartplotters, GPS, and radar can be your eyes on the water at dark. While none of these systems are perfect, when used together, they are extremely helpful for getting you home safely when night boating.
1. Point spotlights
Spotlights can be useful for seeing directly into the water or for portable use, but they need to be used responsibly. Bright lights pointed directly outwards can be distracting, blinding, and dangerous for others.
2. Drive under the influence
This rule is set for all times of the day. Furthermore, diminished vision at night only becomes increasingly worse with each drink. Drink responsibly, determine a designated captain, and make sure to establish a safe plan before boating to ensure everyone gets home safely.
3. Rely on recognizable landmarks
Many people use the coastline to find their way home during the day. Evening hours are different. With night skies, be sure to use your GPS to navigate in dark waters.
4. Night boat in unfamiliar waters
For your first time nightboating (or your first time boating in a new area), try not to make it a nighttime excursion. It is much easier to get lost in places you haven’t boated before. Get to know the area in daylight before making a trip at night.
5. Assume the best
Positive thinking is a powerful thing, but safety is the most important! Assuming that everything will be fine can cause the driver to be careless and increases the chances of an accident. Assume that the water is dangerous at night and boat accordingly to get your crew home safe.