Whether you operate your yacht on a lake, on a local river, or in the ocean, you need to be aware of changing water levels. Each year, thousands of boat insurance claims for both damage and injury can be attributed to accidents as a result of changing water levels. As a boat owner and operator, it is important to be aware of current water levels, anticipated water level changes, and regular tidal changes. Each of these things can affect your ability to operate your yacht in a safe manner.
Many boaters mistakenly believe that water levels change slowly, and that they will have time to react to impending changes. This is not always the case. In fact, many boat insurance claims happen as a result of quick water level changes, which cause a boat to become grounded, to capsize, or to collide with another vessel or obstacle. Quick water level changes often occur as a result of fast tidal changes, dam releases, or flooding. Quick water level changes are not only a hazard for boats on the water, either. They can also negatively impact yachts that are docked to a fixed pier.
Coastal tides present unique challenges to boaters. New and experienced boaters should make it a point to understand tidal patterns and learn how to operate their vessels safely in changing tides. Tides are controlled by the gravitational pulls of the sun and the moon on the Earth. High and low tides are predictable, with both occurring twice each day at six-hour intervals. Tidal changes do not only affect beaches and shorelines. Changing tides can affect water levels by as many as several feet. Often times, strong currents are created as the tide changes, which can pose a hazard for small boats and yachts on the water during that time. Tidal changes are unique to each area, so be aware of the tide schedule of your current location and plan your journey accordingly.
The biggest danger is the hazards that you cannot see. Low water levels whether due to tides, drought or other reason, often unveil numerous underwater obstacles that pose a threat to large and small vessels alike. In addition to exposing the seabed and grounding boats, low water levels often reveals sandbars, submerged vessels, stumps, rocks and even coral reefs that can cause a boat to run aground or even capsize if the operator is not prepared to react quickly. In opposition heavy rainfall can create high water levels in inland lakes that submerge sandbars and other obstacles but wash logs and other debris into the water that may remain floating just below the surface out of site but still able to damage your boat.
When boating, always be aware of your surroundings and, be prepared to change your course in order to avoid obstacles or running aground. Also work with a specialized boat insurance provider like Global Marine Insurance Agency to ensure that you have the best yacht insurance policy for your unique circumstances so that if you do have to file a boat insurance claim you’ll have the support you need.