How to get the most out of boating in cold weather
People buy rather than hire their own boats for a plethora of reasons, but one of the more popular reasons is the ability to be able to use the boat whenever they want. At Nanaimo Boatyard we find people seek to use their boats all year round and those that brave the boating in cold weather seem like they have a lot of fun. People enjoy very peaceful cruising areas, enjoy the thrill of night cruising and argue that by continuing to use the boat it stays in good condition and there is less annual maintenance. There is some logic to this, however, you are using the boat more so things do wear out.
There are a few “must do” items for getting the most out of boating in cold weather:
- Ensure your water and fuel supplies are full – It’s like driving your car through an uninhabited desert; it’s a very good idea to top up your fuel wherever you can because you cannot always be sure where the next supply is going to be available. Keeping your fuel tank topped up also means there is less condensation likely to form which can cause problems.
- Buy some antifreeze – maybe you wont need it, but just to be safe make sure you put some antifreeze in your engine. It could save a whole load of trouble.
- Watch the charge on your batteries – starting a cold engine in cold weather uses up more power than in warm weather so check your batteries and regularly re-charge them.
- Don’t get lazy about wearing life jackets – if you fall in the water when it’s cold you will struggle to stay conscious. The advice is simple and well known but sadly often ignored.
- Watch out for slippery decks – icy decks are easy to resolve. Just scrub some saltwater onto your decks and the ice will disappear.
- Supplies – stock up on hot drinks. It will make all the difference on a cold day.
- Soft furnishings – we’re talking here about any bedding or towels you leave on board. The only way to leave them on board and stop them getting damp is to vacuum pack them. Often, the easiest thing to do is to simply take everything home with you. Seating cushions can normally just be left so that there is maximum air flowing around them to avoid dampness. It’s also a good idea not to stow items against the hull. If moisture gets stuck between your items and hull you will get mildew.
- Pack a boat hook – seawater doesn’t freeze but brackish water can. Just in case you experience very cold weather it’s a good idea to have something on board to break up any ice.
- Insurance – it’s probably not the first thing on your mind, but always check your insurance covers you for using your boat 12 months per year.
- Carefully plan out your trips – are you experienced at bringing a boat into the harbour in the dark? If not, then you need to plan your trip so you are coming back into the harbour in day light.
Boating in cold weather can be great fun. Just don’t forget to be safe.