Play it safe when boating at night | Pontoon-Depot
An evening cruise to watch the sunset or do a little stargazing can be an unforgettable experience. But navigating home can be challenging. Everything looks different in the dark, and it can be easy to lose your way or hit an obstacle you just can’t see.
To make it home safely, follow these guidelines:
Before you head out, find out what the nighttime speed limit is in your area. Once you’re underway, if you feel you need to go slower than the limit, that’s certainly OK. Going slower at night just makes sense. After all, you can’t easily see the landmarks you need to navigate, and underwater or floating debris can be next to invisible. Safety first!
Learn the Language of the Lights
If you don’t know what the combinations of red, green and white lights mean, you shouldn’t be driving a boat at night. These lights help you know if a boat is coming toward you, moving away, or crossing your course - and which direction it’s going. Access your state or US Coast Guard resources to learn more, but a good rule of thumb is that if you see a red light, stop. That boat has the right-of-way.
It’s easy for your pontoon to be a party on the water. And most of the time, that’s OK. But when you’re piloting your boat at night, it’s important you’re able to concentrate. So make sure any lights on the boat (NOT your navigation lights) are dimmed, look over the windshield so you can reduce glare, and turn down the stereo.
Consider Using a Compass or a GPS
Your first trip on a waterway should never be at night. If you’re at a new place, go out during the day first and take a compass with you. Make note of the direction you travel. Or, go high-tech and use a GPS system to drop a pin at your dock or boat launch. That will make it much easier to find your way back after dark, when everything looks the same.
By following these simple steps, you can enjoy fun on the water any time of day.
Water Safety on the Lake | Pontoon-Depot
May is National Water Safety Month which typically applies to backyards: swimming pools, swim spas and hot tubs. But in our line of business, water safety month means being safe out on the lake. And here are some of our best tips:
One of the first things to remember about swimming at the lake is that the murky water keeps you from seeing how deep it really is. Oftentimes, when you stop to swim it's hard to judge the water’s depth unless you're on a beach, in which case you know that the further you get from shore the deeper the water will be.
Additionally, the glare from the sun on the water can cause you to misjudge distances and think you can easily swim from point A to point B when, in fact, it's too far. As such, it is highly recommended that you always wear a life jacket when swimming in a lake, since there are so many unpredictable factors involved.
Life Jacket Required
Speaking of life jackets, we highly recommend that while the boat is in motion everyone wear a life jacket, especially children under 12 or anyone who does not possess strong swimming skills. This is an important precaution while the boat is in motion, in case of a boating accident or someone falling overboard. And remember, boats should only be driven by licensed drivers and never be driven by someone under the influence of alcohol for optimal safety of all of those on board.
Caution of Currents
Understand that swimming in a lake is not the same as swimming in the more controlled environment of a pool. There are currents, even in a large lake. As well as waves caused by other boats passing by. For everyone’s safety, it is highly recommended that you swim only in designated swimming areas or just off of a shore, where most boats won’t be passing. And be sure to anchor the boat and turn off the motor completely before anyone exits to swim.
This summer, keep your friends and family safe by taking these precautions during lake boating excursions. And remember, every month is water safety month!
Navigational Lighting 101
You might as well accept the fact that if you like to spend long days on your boat, you’ll eventually stay out a little too late and find yourself making your way back to the dock in total darkness. Not only can this be a scary situation if you do not the correct lights but navigational lighting is the law and from sunset to sunrise navigational lighting must be in good working order and in use.
The U.S. Coast Guard has very specific guidelines on navigation lighting. It depends on the length of your vessel, its overall use, and other various factors. But for the sake of brevity here are the requirements for recreational boating in vessels under 39 feet in length:
- Masthead Light: a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel
- Side Lights: a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side
- Stern Light: a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern
Rule 20(b) The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights which cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these rules or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out.
Here at Pontoon-Depot.com we carry a full line of the required navigational lights to keep your Pontoon Boat looking good and keep you safe and ticket free. See our complete lighting section here.
If you want to know more about your state's boating laws and how they specifically can affect you, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators offers a reference guide. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard State Boating Laws page to view the various laws and requirements here: http://www.uscgboating.org/regulations/state-boating-laws.php