Maybe you stayed out too late simply to catch the sundown or maybe it was always your strategy to delight in a night cruise. Whether by possibility or by choice, the minute the stars come out, the world looks foreign, and browsing home needs careful attention. Preparation is the crucial to navigating during the night without getting lost or crashing an undersea barrier.
Here are a couple of sensible rules to make it home safely:
- Slow Down
Numerous state and local jurisdictions have lower nighttime speed limits– some as low as idle speed. It’s a natural preventative measure, due to the fact that familiar landmarks change or even disappear during the night, making it easy to run off-course. Drifting debris huge enough to harm your boat are invisible on the black water’s surface. Other boats’ navigation lights can be tough to discern from the backscatter of shore lights. To maintain control in this challenging environment, slow the speed.
- Remove Interruptions
Easy nighttime operation is often a matter of reading subtle hints. This can be hard to do when cockpit lights compromise your night vision. Dim the interior lights and pop your head above the windshield to decrease reflections. Even a too-loud stereo can end up being a risk, subduing the horn of an unseen boat.
- Cautious With the High Beams
Some might think headlights are the response. (If your boat has a built-in set, they’re really “docking lights” planned for close-quarters steering only.) Effective forward-looking lights or swivel-mounted or portable spotlights can be useful, however they can also confuse other boaters by subduing your navigation lights or blinding approaching captains. Use highlights judiciously, not constantly, and never shine them into the face of another boater– that’s prohibited.
- Use a Compass
Never make your first excursion into unfamiliar waters at night. During the day, make note of the compass direction from home port to state, your waterfront restaurant. When you return, it’s an easy thing to add or subtract 180 degrees to get your reciprocal or return course. Don’t have a compass on board? Setting up one from ritchie.com makes an excellent boat-bling job.
- Discover the Lights
Every boater ought to know the mixes of red, green and white lights that tell you whether a boat is coming or going, and in what general direction (see diagram). Oh, and your own running lights are working properly … right?
- Light Show
Navigation lights are developed so that the only time you’ll see both green and red together is when another boat is coming at you head-on (top). Otherwise, you’ll see either a green or a red light (middle and bottom), if the boat is crossing your course, and a white light (stern), if the boat is moving far from you. A very easy guideline to keep in mind is that when you see red, stop. The other boater has the right-of-way.