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Safety Tips For Winter Boating

Safety Tips For Winter Boating

on November 23, 2022

Winter brings with it its own unique challenges, and the same is true when it comes to winter boating. If you want to stay safe and enjoy your hobbies, then there are some precautions you need to take.

To properly cover them, let’s discuss safety tips for winter boating!

Always Let Someone Know

Even with the rest of our safety tips for winter boating, this is crucial: let someone know before sailing out. Sailing on a lake during winter is tricky enough. Setting out to sea in the same conditions can be downright treacherous.

Sometimes, it really doesn’t matter how well you prepare or how many fail saves you have in place. The best thing you can do is have someone who will inform people if you don’t show up on time. It doesn’t have to be a family member, either. A friend, an acquaintance, so long as they can ensure that someone will try to find you and render aid, it’s okay.

Otherwise, you face the prospect of dealing with whatever accident you find yourself in all on your own. And during winter, that’s not a promising position to be in.

Fog over boats

Never Set Out In Bad Weather

Another thing you must never do is sail during bad weather. Water is temperamental enough as is; you don’t need strong winds, rain, or snow to complicate things for you further. Sailing out during such conditions would simply be tempting fate.

Of course, while you can do your due diligence and check the weather forecasts for your area beforehand, they can be wrong. In such a scenario, as soon as you notice the weather shift, you need to pack up and start heading home.

Do not hope it will clear up, do not hesitate to do it. Just pack your things, call your day quits, and start heading for the harbor. 

stormy waves

Keep Your Life Jacket On

One of the more important safety tips for winter boating is to always keep your life jacket on. It is a crucial piece of marine safety equipment for a reason. Now, if you have a boat with a large indoor area, you can, of course, take it off there at times.

But keep in mind that this would mean constantly having to put it on and off, and this can get annoying very quickly. Which can lead to the temptation of just leaving it off when you pop out for a second. Do not do this!

Your footing on a boat is treacherous enough, even without wind and waves lapping at your boat. All it takes is a moment of inattention to find yourself in trouble.

Dress Warm And In Layers

Of course, you should dress appropriately for the weather. No matter how warm it may seem the weather is on the shore, it is wise to remember that things will be considerably colder once you’re out on the water.

If you let yourself forget this, you can easily catch a cold. Now, note that you definitely want to bring extra clothing in a waterproof bag. Wet clothes start stealing your body heat extremely quickly, after all.

It may also be smart to invest in electric warmers and put them under your clothes in order to really stay warm and comfy.

Have A First Aid Kit Handy

Obviously, you want to bring a first aid kit along. Even when not discussing safety tips for winter boating, in particular, it is a required part of marine supplies you want to keep on your boat at all times.

The bad weather and all the potential trouble you can get up to during winter on a boat just make it more necessary.

Make Absolutely Sure Your VHF Radio Works

If you get into some sort of trouble and need to call for help, you do not want to be forced to rely on the whims of your mobile phone’s signal. It can be somewhat unreliable if you are out on the water, and not being able to reach anyone would quickly chip away at your options.

If you do not have a VHF radio already, then acquire one immediately. They are yet another example of equipment you do not want to go boating without if you have safety in mind.

Do A Battery Check

Batteries suffer from cold weather the most compared to nearly every other part of your boat. This is why so much attention needs to be paid to them when learning how to prepare a boat for storage to keep it safe during winter.

Even when you are actively using your boat, this danger remains. The first thing you want to do is make sure you are using lithium batteries. They are relatively resistant compared to most other types and can endure winter better.

Second, you should try to keep your batteries above forty degrees, even when in storage, and gradually warm them up instead of just suddenly putting them to use.

Try Not To Go Alone

Regarding safety tips for winter boating, one is more likely to end up saving your life than most of the others on our list: never go alone. In an emergency, things go wrong quickly, but even should one person get hurt or take an unwanted dip in freezing water, there will always be someone to help them out.

Even if you’ve decided that you want to own a boat because you like spending time on it alone, your life is worth more than an indulgence.

boat in ice

Know What To Do In An Emergency

The final of our safety tips for winter boating is to study up on what to do in emergencies. Most notably, you need to know what to do if you end up overboard. After all, there are a series of rules regarding cold water survival.

If you end up in freezing cold water, you typically have about a minute to recover from the shock. Then, you have a ten-minute window where you can act normally before you start to lose your ability to move.

Finally, you have about an hour before you have to worry about hypothermia. That’s to say, nothing about trying to avoid colds or other comparatively ‘minor’ health inconveniences.

Final Comment

Relying on our safety tips for winter boating, you can keep indulging in your love of boating, even during this challenging season. Of course, remember to always be careful on your boat during winter and avoid taking chances with your personal safety.

Author’s Bio: 

Jared Clavel is a longtime boating enthusiast and works at a marina, taking care of boat cleaning and maintenance. His longtime experience with boating is something he cherishes and shares through the blog posts he writes.

 

 

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