The night is one of the most dangerous times for boating, with most boating deaths happening late after it’s dark. It can be very difficult to see what’s out there in the black water, and this decreased visibility only becomes worse when you add in bright lights and fast speeds.
Sometimes boating at night is necessary, and oftentimes, it’s fun too! Keep reading for the top rules for boating at night that will keep everyone safe.
The Dos of Boating at Night
With the right precautions taken and rules followed, boating at night is both danger-free and enjoyable. Here are the top three dos when it comes to boating in the dark.
- Learn the Navigation Lights
At the boat’s stern, you’ll see a red light for the port (the left side) and a green light for the starboard (the right side). There will also be a white light that’s aft (the back of the boat).
Understand these navigation lights so that you can tell in which direction a boat is approaching you.
- Check Your Supplies
There are some essential items you’ll want to double-check that you have on board before leaving your dock. These include extra batteries for flashlights or headlamps, flares, and life jackets (personal floatation devices).
Having a blanket or towel with you is always helpful too.
- Use Extra Caution When Docking
Darkness tends to distort the distances, making it more difficult for you to tell when you’re about to come to the dock. Go slowly and stay vigilant to ensure you dock properly.
For example, pontoon boats are trickier to dock even in the daytime, so use extra caution when coming up to the dock. You can find more on pontoon boat accessories here.
The Don’ts When on a Boat at Night
Knowing what not to do while boating at night is just as important as knowing what to do. These three don’ts will help keep you and other boaters out of harm’s way.
- Go Too Fast
While you may feel comfortable cruising along at high speeds during the daylight, once night falls, it’s much more difficult to see your surroundings and judge distances correctly. Always go slower when boating at night to make sure you’re aware of all other boats and obstacles you’re encountering.
- Use Bright Lights
Not only can bright lights reflect off the water and make it difficult to see, but they dull your night vision as well. Be sure to dim all of the lights on board and avoid using powerful lights when on the water.
- Ignore Your Navigation Instruments
It’s easy to get comfortable as a boater and rely on your own perceptions instead of the boat’s navigation tools. But in general, and especially when it’s dark, it’s best to assume the navigation instruments are correct and use those to guide you.
Stay Safe by Following Boat at Night Laws
By following these safety tips, boating at night may just become your new favorite activity. Just remember to follow boating laws and take the proper precautions.
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