A sunset or twilight cruise on your own boat has all the ingredients for an evening to remember. It’s a great way to view fireworks, have a romantic evening, or simply enjoy some leisure time. It can be easy to spot potential trouble in the daylight hours, but boating after dark is a completely different experience when familiar landmarks are out of sight and you can’t see where you’ve been or where you’re going.
On the water, there’s no way to know from which direction another vessel may be approaching. There are no headlights and even using a marine spotlight isn’t effective in the dark of night. To light their way and notify other watercraft of their location, boats are equipped with red, green or white navigational lights.
The navigational lights aren’t very bright, can be very difficult to see in the dark, and vessels can be dangerously close before they’re visible. Marine searchlights create shadows and reflections that can lead skippers to become complacent or envision danger where none exists. To increase safety on the water after dark, there are three basic principles that every boat owner should follow.
Darkness reduces visibility and sense of distance. Just as you would slow down at night or in a rainstorm in your vehicle, reduce your speed in marine environments. You’ll need to be able to distinguish the direction, distance and speed of other craft in regard to your own positioning.
Interior Boat Lighting
The illumination within your own boat can blind you to outside sources on the water if not arranged properly. The light sources inside your vessel should provide sufficient illumination, but shielded to prevent glare.
Use Your Ears
Sounds are amplified when carried across the water. Horns, flapping sails, and engine noises can help you identify nearby vessels, but not if your stereo system is drowning out all other sounds.
Caution is Paramount
Heading out on the water at night can be an adventure, but reduced visibility dictates that skippers err on the side of caution. Know what each color navigational light indicates so you’ll know another craft’s positioning relative to your own.
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The Sena Group
6501 Congress Ave., Ste. 100
Boca Raton, FL 33487