The crisp, windless days of winter can be a joy to go power boating in. With friends and family aboard, all warmly, you’ll often find you have the time of your life. With a steaming hot cup of coffee and a beanie pulled down over your ears, you’ll be all set for a wonderful wintry day on the water. Weather windows can be small, but if you act quickly and gather your troops, you’ll be out cruising in no time. Here are Leisure Boating’s top winter boating tips so that you can enjoy an extended season of boating, throughout the year… weather permitting.
FULL FUEL TANKS
Make sure that in your haste to beat the small weather window you don’t forget to fill up with fuel. There is nothing worse than your boat running out of fuel with a storm brewing on the horizon. Keeping your tank topped up also reduces condensation within the tank.
Starting your motors in winter requires more power and there is thus a bigger current draw from the battery, so make sure your batteries are fully charged before setting out.
Boat decks can get very slippery if they are wet, so always warn your crew, friends and family to take care, especially when walking around or climbing aboard. Wearing rubber soled shoes helps improve grip on wet decks.
PLAN SHORTER TRIPS
Winter always offers less daylight hours and this means shorter trips are the order of the day. Nobody wants to get caught after dark in winter with a long way back to the marina, particularly if there’s bad weather brewing. If you are undertaking long trips, leave before dawn to arrive before sunset if possible.
Have flasks of hot drinks on board such as hot chocolate for friends and family as there is nothing better than holding a hot cup of your favourite brew in your hands as you move through the wintery landscape. Just remember that caffeinated drinks can be a diuretic!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Food always helps to keep you warm and morale high. If you have heating facilities on the boat you will be able to warm things up, or, use a variety of other options such as fresh baked breads and soup kept in flasks. There are numerous easy food options for boaters doing the winter circuit, it just a matter of being creative.
Bulky clothing will restrict your movement, whereas layers of thinner clothing will trap heat yet offer your more ease of movement. Always take enough warm clothing when boating in winter as it can get very cold, very quickly on a boat. Snoodies to keep your nose and neck warm and a beanie is suggested to keep your head warm.
If your lifejacket gets wet while wearing it, open it up and dry out the innards when you’ve tied up. Lifejackets don’t like staying damp as the automatic firing tablets can start to dissolve and the cylinders corrode, either of which could stop your inflatable jacket working when you most need it.
TAKE CUSHIONS HOME
When you leave the boat, take all the removable cushions with you and dry them off at home to prevent the buildup of mildew.
DON’T FALL OVERBOARD
Water temperatures are a lot colder in winter and the wind-chill factor also increases dramatically, so always wear a lifejacket and don’t fall overboard. Cold shock can severely affect your ability to swim and breathe.