As an industry leader in yacht insurance and other marine insurance coverage, our boat insurance company always strives to promote boat safety and responsible boating. Did you know the risk of accident greatly increases after sunset?
Here are our top eight tips to keep you safe on your yacht, sailboat or other vessel while boating after dark:
Know the weather – The weather conditions can greatly impact conditions on the water. Checking the forecast is particularly crucial if you know you’re going to be boating in the dark because of course you can’t always see changes in the weather the same as you would during daylight. Consult the weather channel on local media as well as from reliable sources such as the National Weather Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You need to be mindful of any storm systems that arise, particularly precipitation, fog and wind. It can be very useful to find out what the moon phase is and how much cloud cover there may be, as these will give you some idea of night visibility.
Estimate risk – Think big picture. Is it a long weekend or is there any reason to anticipate increased boat traffic? Ensure you have updated nautical charts for the route you intend to travel. You need to be prepared for potential hazards that you may not be able to see at night, including such things as shallow water, rapids, overhead or underwater cables, bridges, logging areas and low-head dams. Reduced visibility conditions also make it harder for you to avoid colliding with fixed objects or other boaters so be watchful and aware as you practice the basic rules of navigation. If you do incur damage to your boat make sure not to make any repairs until after you have contacted your boat insurance company and we have evaluated the damage.
Check your electronics and lights – Don’t wait till you are out on the waves to discover something isn’t working. Ensure your radar, GPS and radio equipment are all working as they should be and that all of your navigation lights are functional and placed in accordance with the U.S. Coast Guard and federal boating guidelines. Don’t forget to make sure you have replacement light bulbs and fuses with you on your vessel, just in case one or more burn out. Consider using dimmed lighting or red bulbs on board, which let you see but don’t impact your night vision as you look out around you on the water.
Be prepared – Check your first aid kit and emergency supplies. Make certain you have what you need for the number of people on board in a waterproof plastic bag or container. Is your yacht insurance or boat insurance coverage up to date? Ensure you have the boat insurance coverage you need for liability.
Gas up – It’s easy to forget to make sure your gas tank is full. Running out of fuel is never fun when you’re boating, but it can be much more dangerous at night. Take the time to fill your tank before you get stuck.
Stay focused – It is very important to be alert when you boat at night because being aware of any hazards at night will keep you safe. Get adequate rest (being drowsy can lead to an accident) and minimize distractions, including conversations, music or other media. Ensure whoever is steering the vessel stays sober; designated drivers are just as important for boating as they are for motor vehicles.
Use a float plan – Document where you are going and when you expect to be back and leave the information with a trusted friend or family member or someone at the marina who can let authorities know if you don’t return. Make sure to let them know if your plans have changed.
Stay within the law – Maritime laws at night vary depending where you are. Many bodies of water have a no wake after dusk law. Note your speed limit and observe the light requirements for marine vessels that are offshore after dark.
If you have any other questions about night boating safety, yacht insurance or other boat insurance coverage information contact the marine experts at Global Marine Insurance.