Winter Boating: Only the Brave

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Most of us retire our boats during these colder months until the weather is more agreeable around the end of September. However, there are those devotees that press on, come rain, icy winds and icier water – and we salute you. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, mind, but if you feel like joining this band of diehards, best you take heed of these few tips.

There are a number of things that you will need to survive a winter boating session, especially if you’re going to be boating in an extremely cold region. Frozen plumbing, dead batteries or a bout of hypothermia is enough to ruin anyone’s day, and it’s therefore vital to take extra caution and prepare properly for winter boating. Take a look at these few tips to avoid the above and a myriad of other potential calamities.


Firstly, let’s have a look at the clothing items you would need in less than optimal conditions. Life-jackets should be worn at all times regardless of the weather, but they become even more important in cold weather conditions. Sudden immersion in cold water could have deadly consequences. The human body loses body heat 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air and the accelerated heat loss causes the onset of hypothermia in a matter of minutes (hypothermia is the leading cause of death of people engaging in outdoor activities during the off-season).

Cardiac arrest is also a real concern, as well as involuntary inhalation of water caused by gasping which could result in drowning. A life-vest could vastly improve your chances of survival in this situation as it will keep your head above water, keep you warmer and better your chances of rescue. Nowadays, you get very comfortable life-jackets that don’t inhibit movement – automatic-inflating life-vests are fantastic in this respect. Another option is something called a ‘float-coat’. It’s a coat with a PFD built in and all that foam makes for great insulation and warmth.


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