United States Coast Guard

United States Coast Guard Cold-Weather Boating Tips

Can you sail in the winter? The United States Coast Guard has provided some winter-safe boating guidelines. Always dress for the weather, insulate your ship, and measure the ice thickness before setting off. If you remember these safety tips, you may have a great time boating in the winter without worrying about getting in trouble. When the weather outside drops, many people put their boats away and go inside. It may be chilly outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to store your boat for the season. The United States Coast Guard advises safe boating in cooler temperatures. Here are things to remember for a safe and enjoyable winter boating adventure.

Check the Weather Forecast Before You Go Out

Checking the forecast is one of the essential things you can do to be ready for a boating excursion in the winter. With an idea of the weather ahead of time, you can better prepare for your trip and bring the right gear. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that everyone check the weather before setting out. To avoid unpleasant surprises while on the open sea, you should know the current wind speeds, water temperatures, and ice conditions.

When the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, icing is more likely to occur; thus, it’s crucial to determine whether there is a spot where ice might develop. This knowledge may also help you decide whether it’s advisable to turn back early or make preparations to stay somewhere else if heavy weather strikes. If your boating destination is more remote or there are particular spots, you’ll be more exposed to wind and waves.

Take Extra Safety Precautions from the United States Coast Guard

We all know swimming becomes more challenging in the water with decreasing temperature. Therefore, you should always carry a life jacket, even if you only go for a little ride on a warm day. Because you never know when the cold may strike, it’s best to be prepared for the worst-case situation, including the possibility that your boat will capsize or flip. Don’t leave the vessel; stay there and send distress signals instead.

Once you’ve gotten going, keep a close eye on the weather and other circumstances, and don’t skimp on safety measures. Bad weather increases the likelihood of an incident involving your boat, so always keep an eye on your surroundings. Before leaving, check the weather report, and keep an eye on the predictions while you travel. Nothing compares to getting stuck outside during a severe storm or snowstorm. Ensure you have a working distress signal, flares, food, and water before taking any trip.

Have Your Boat Winterized By a Professional If Possible

Ensure your boat is in good working order before venturing into the cold. If it is feasible, you should have a professional take care of winterizing your boat, whether you just bought it or are using it for the first time this season. They will be able to inspect the hoses, the engine, and the exhaust system to guarantee that everything is in working order and that no water has entered the system. In this way, you may have a more secure journey.

A professional may use a winterizing chemical that will assist in de-icing your US vessel and prevent further ice and frost development. This chemical works by insulating your boat from the inside. Another plus is that this chemical may reveal any damage that may have gone undetected during the boat’s previous owners’ careless storage or usage. Winterizing your boat is a good idea if you plan on taking it out for the first time this year in rough seas.

United States Coast Guard

Rigging up Your Boat for the Winter

Cleaning the boat and clearing any dirt from the drains is the next step before putting it away for the winter. The next step is eliminating any standing water in the boat’s engine, bilge, and live wells. To accomplish this, you may open the valves and pump the water out via the seacocks or a hose connected to the seacock. Take the batteries out and bring them inside or to a heated garage for the winter. If you have a canvas top for your boat, inspect the fasteners and repair any broken or loose ones. Check the steadiness of the deck’s cleats, rails, and winches. Finally, before bringing your trailer inside for the winter, check the condition of the tires to make sure they are safe to use.

If you’re planning a cold-weather trip on your vessel, the United States Coast Guard wants to remind you of some safety tips. The Maritime Documentation Center is your best source for information on safe cold-weather boating. Explore the website.