What You Should Know Before Overnight Boating

boating at night

Overnight boating is like camping on your boat, so it has the potential to be a lot of fun. However, there are some important safety considerations you’ll need to keep in mind – and precautions you’ll need to take.

Use the Right Boat

First, you'll want to use the right boat. Any boat that has ample space for you and your companions could hypothetically be used for overnight boating, but it's not necessarily comfortable. Larger vessels and luxury vessels often have sleeping accommodations built into them, making it easy to camp out on your boat. Smaller vessels may require you to go ashore and set up a camping area there.

Watch the Weather Carefully

Weather is going to be your biggest concern when planning an overnight boating trip. For the most part, it pays to plan your overnight trip in summer, when the weather is nice and warm and a little less volatile. Even so, it's important to watch the weather in the days and hours leading up to your trip – and you should be prepared to cancel if the weather suddenly turns for the worst. Strong winds, bad storms, and cold temperatures can all be problematic, so don't take any unnecessary risks.

Find the Right Place to Anchor

Anchoring overnight is very similar to ordinary anchoring, but you may want to take some extra precautions. Generally, you’ll want to have an anchor that’s 1 pound of weight for every 2 feet of boat, but if you’re anchoring overnight, you may want something a bit heavier. For example, if you have a 24 foot boat, you’ll want an anchor that’s 15 to 20 pounds. You’ll also want to have a reliable, galvanized chain at least as long as the boat – and a nylon rope 10 times longer than the water’s current depth.

As for finding the right place to anchor, you’ll have several options. You can find a specific anchorage, a cove, or some other place, but you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  • Rules and regulations. Be sure to research the rules and regulations for overnight boating in your chosen area, whether you're setting up at an anchorage or are finding a more remote location. Do you need any permits or special documentation to allow you to do this? Are you sure which areas are public and private property? When are facilities open and are there restricted hours per serving activities?
  • Fees. How much are the fees to anchor at a specific location?
  • Amenities. Are there any amenities available at this location? For example, will you have access to restrooms and showers? Or will you have available picnic tables and fire pits to use?
  • Popularity. Ideally, you'll find an overnight spot that isn't crowded. This will make it easier to relax and sleep, thanks to lower noise levels, but can also reduce the risk of a potential accident in the future.
  • Security/reliability. Is there a secure place to dock your boat? Do you feel safe in this area? Are you able to keep your boat in adequate distance away from other vessels?

Anchor While It’s Still Daylight

Make sure you anchor your boat while it's still daylight. With proper lighting and keen night vision, you may be able to anchor just fine in a night time setting, but during the day, you'll have much more robust visibility. Because anchoring is such an important and vulnerable action, it's not worth taking any unnecessary risks here.

Stay Lit

In most areas, your boat will be required to display a white light that’s visible from all directions. This will prevent the possibility of another boat colliding into you unexpectedly. Certain small vessels may be exempt from this rule, but even if it's not a legal requirement, it's worth displaying the light anyway.

Bring Plenty of Supplies

Make sure you bring more supplies than you think you need; it never hurts to have a little extra on hand. These are some of the most important essentials:

  • Food. Bring plenty of food for your trip and some extra snacks and rations in case you're at sea for longer than you intended. Compact, non-perishable food items don't take up much space, but could literally save your life under the right circumstances.
  • Water. Staying hydrated is essential for your health, your survival, and your comfort. That's why you should bring plenty of potable water with you even if you feel like you can count on a local drinking water source.
  • Sleeping bags. Bring well-insulated, comfortable sleeping bags to maximize your potential for a good night’s sleep.
  • Extra clothes. Don't forget to bring some extra clothes in case yours get wet or in case you want to change the next day.
  • Flashlights, batteries, and chargers. Flashlights, extra batteries, and chargers for your electronic devices will keep you lit and connected even in the dark.

Prepare for Emergencies

It's also important to plan for emergencies. In addition to the supplies listed in the section above, you should:

  • Notify others of your plans. Tell someone else about where you're planning to dock and how long you're planning to be gone. If you're not back when you expect to be back, they can take action and begin a search.
  • Research your routes. Become familiar with all your intended routes. The better you know the local area, the safer you’ll be.
  • Bring a first aid kit. Bring a first aid kit along and get comfortable with the idea of using it. If someone in your group injures themselves or if you encounter an emergency, you'll be able to take action immediately.
  • Familiarize yourself with your VHF radio. You may have cell phones at your disposal in the group and plenty of chargers to keep them functional, but your VHF radio will be your main source of reliable communication in an emergency. Make sure it's working and that you understand how to operate it.

Want to start overnight boating? You’ll need an excellent, reliable vessel if you want to make the most of the experience. If you don’t have a boat, or if you’re eager for a new upgrade, we’ve got you covered – browse our listings of new and used vessels at TheYachtMarket today! Or if you’re interested in selling your previous boat, you can list your boat in just four easy steps!

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