Most boat owners close up their boats and store them for the winter. But there is actually much to do and experience on the water during the colder months. If you want to maximize your use to get the full financial and emotional value from your own boat, here are a few tips to better enjoy winter boating.
Winter boating should be viewed differently than summer boating. This is not just a chance to spend more time on the water. It’s also a chance to experience a different season and different activities. This could be as simple as exploring some areas of your local waterways that you don’t normally explore because they are too busy with crowds. Even repetitive sports like fishing are different between summer and winter due to different animal patterns.
Make winter boating a new experience by seeking out ways to make it unique. Travel on different waterways. Visit different ports. Outfit your boat and head farther north. Or take this as a chance to travel south into regions you don’t normally traverse.
Of course, keeping yourself and the family warm while on the cold water is key to enjoying the winter boat excursion. Start with proper cold weather gear that is water-resistant and wicks moisture away from the body. Include hats and gloves as well as proper, warm footwear. Many winter boaters prefer a drysuit, which is the best protection if you’ll be near the water for any extended period.
Avoid activities that will decrease your ability to stay warm, such as drinking alcohol. It’s tempting during cold winter days to warm up with alcoholic beverages. However, these can make it more difficult to regulate your body temperature and to react in the event of an emergency.
If your boat has an indoor cabin, keep it ready for warm, indoor activities. If the weather turns harsh or the family simply gets cold and tired, you want to be able to retreat indoors and have some fun. Onboard wireless internet is a great start. You can use this to do anything from challenge the kids to video games to snuggle up during your favorite winter movies.
If wireless isn’t an option, look for docking options that offer good wireless connections as well as close and convenient dining and entertainment. You should also stock up on family board or video games and other activities that everyone likes to engage in together.
Safety is doubly important when both the air and water temperature drop. After all, if you have a breakdown or emergency and the weather is balmy, you have more time and options than if it happens when the water is near freezing and a storm is blowing in. Being prepared for cold weather means less stress and more confidence when on the water.
Start with good winter boat preparation. Have your boat regularly serviced during the winter. Keep all decks and docks clear of ice and snow. Charge your batteries using, perhaps using alternative means (like solar power) or trickle-charge. Beware of freezing in all water lines.
Be smart about how you use the boat as well. Wear proper life jackets at all times. Boat within communications range of emergency services whenever possible. And plan shorter day trips to account for fewer daylight hours and harsher overnight conditions.
If you practice smart boating procedures and look for new ways to have fun on the water, winter boating can be just as fun as summer adventures. Want to know more about taking your boat out during the cold season? Petzold’s Marine Center can help. Call today to talk with our experienced staff and start planning your winter getaways.