Boating at night is challenging and not usually recommended. If you do find yourself in a nighttime boating situation or really want to give it a shot for a specific reason like certain fish bite at this time of day, you’ll want to be really smart about preparing, executing, and returning.
Obviously, you’ll want to plan ahead and make sure you don’t get distracted by the beautiful night sky above you. Take a look at a few useful tips you’ll definitely want to keep in mind when boating at night.
Lighting will be extremely important for this excursion. First, make sure your overhead lights and cockpit lights are all working properly because you’ll need to use them at times, but you’ll also want to keep them dimmed to help with your night vision. If you have a nighttime mode on your boat, you’ll want to know how to use that to allow you to see without making it difficult for your eyes to adjust to the nighttime darkness.
You’ll want to make sure you’ve learned the standard signals set in place by the US Coast Guard so that you can recognize the color combinations from other vessels, such as what red and white means, or green and red. Make sure your running lights are in use when it’s dark. Turn off your under-deck lighting to avoid confusion to other boaters. Be sure to have a spotlight available in the event that you see a boat headed your way that doesn’t see you.
Along with understanding the proper use of your lights, you’ll want to boat with extra caution. You’ll want to keep your eyes focused on what you’re doing rather than enjoying your surroundings. You’ll have to keep your eyes focused on what you’re doing and looking for other boats.
You’ll also need to be listening well which means this is the time to turn off the music and keep the conversation to a minimum. You’ll be listening for bells, horns, and engines.
You’ll want to slow down when boating at night. Take a slow pace even if you are tempted to get docked as soon as possible. You don’t want to end up hitting a log or another boat. Be sure that you aren’t drinking as the driver of the boat as being under the influence while dealing with impaired vision from the darkness could be very dangerous.
Have an extra set of eyes
Lastly, it will serve you well to have an extra set of eyes on board. Make sure someone else is on board to help you navigate in the dark. Your vision can become impaired if you get too tired from constantly scanning your surroundings. Having someone else to help when you need a break is important.
Additionally, having some tools on board will help you to stay safe. Keep a GPS handy to make sure you know where you are going and to make sure you know where coves in the area are. You’ll love a chart plotter which will work as your eyes in the water to tell you when buoys or markers are located. Of course, a night vision scope could be highly beneficial so that you can see even better.
Use these 3 safety tips to make sure you are staying safe on the water when cruising at night.