All year long, we provide you with USCG documentation forms and service. That means that we have all of the Certificates of Documentation, Change of Vessel Name or Hailing Port files and the like that you could ever be looking for. One thing we always want to emphasize is safe boating. Being out on a boat any time of year can be one of the most enjoyable experiences. Being on a boat in the winter can be present additional challenges. In this blog, we’d like to go over some winter boating tips we got from the Coast Guard and pass them along to you. We want you to boat safely all year long.
Winter Safety Tips from our USCG Documentation Forms Site
Many of these tips are common sense, but they can all save your life. The safer you are when boating, the more enjoyable the experience can be. One of the first most basic tips is to file a float plan. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds; you don’t have to chart an entire course and give it to someone like you were Magellan. Simply tell someone where you’re going and when you plan on returning. This way, should the worst happen, someone will know to look for you. This is a good rule of thumb during the winter and really when you’re boating every time of year.
Memorize the above sequence of numbers. While these aren’t hard and fast rules, those are the typical numbers for how long you can last in genuinely cold water. The first “one” comes from the one minute you have after being submerged to get your breathing under complete control. If you haven’t gotten your breathing under control by one minute, it’s a bad thing. Your odds of drowning go up quite a bit, as you essentially go into shock. The “10” comes from how many minutes you have of real, “good” movement in your body to self-recover. If you’re in the water for more than ten minutes, the cold temperatures in the water will lessen the feeling and dexterity in your arms and fingers. The final “one” comes from the hour you have until hypothermia sets in. Always boat safely.
Party on Land, Not on the Water
Partying is one of the best parts of the holidays. Seeing family and friends you maybe don’t get to see that often during the year, kicking back and having a few with them is what the holidays are all about. However, you’re going to want to save that for when you’re on the land. Always boat sober no matter what. It’s always dangerous to boat and drink, but especially so during the frigid winter months. If someone on your boat is going to drink, make sure they don’t take the wheel. Always having a designated captain (or to only drink when off the boat) can make a better holiday season for everyone.
Dress as You’ll be in the Water
We know that many of you, when you go out on a boat in the winter, sure don’t plan on being in the water. In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do: you just want to be out on the boat. We get that. However, when you’re out on the boat, it’s always safest to dress for the water as opposed to the air. After all, you could be out on a boat in the Midwest in early January where it’s 40, 50 degrees in the air. However, the water is going to be just a bit above freezing in all likelihood. Should something happen and you go into the water, you really aren’t going to be prepared for it. Dressing in warm clothing, just a bit warmer than you might plan on originally, can make all of the difference in the world.
One thing you always want your wardrobe to include when you’re on a boat is a life jacket. You don’t necessarily have to have it on your person at all times, but you do want it to be where it’s easily reachable. If a life jacket is stored under a cooler or the seat covers, it’s not going to do anyone any good in an emergency. Having a life jacket that fits within reach for all on board is a great way to boat safely.
Obviously, not nearly as many people boat during the winter months. However, if you’re absolutely hungry to be back on your boat, you can do it. It requires a few extra considerations than it might in the summer, but boating safety is a good habit all year long. If you have any questions about documentation for your vessel, give us a call at (800) 535-8570 or give us a message through our site.