Essential Safety Tips for Nighttime Boating

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If you own a boat (or better yet, as the joke goes, you know someone who does),  you’ve probably thought about spending some evenings on the water – especially in the summertime.

It’s a great thought, of course. But, when you’re boating after dark in Florida, you need to think about staying safe, even as you enjoy the stillness of the water and the starry sky.

Here are seven things to keep in mind, both before you hit the water and once you’re out cruising around:

    1. Have a plan – and tools to help if it goes wrong: Don’t go boating at night in an unfamiliar place. You can’t see as well, obviously, so stick to where you know the ropes, so to speak. And because things look different in the dark, make sure you have the correct navigational tools in case you get lost.
    2. Share your plan: Always give a friend or family member your “float plan.” Include where you’re going, your boat’s description and registration information, who’s with you and when you’ll be back.
    3. Check – and dress for – the weather: On top of the other difficulties of boating at night, you don’t want to get caught in a storm if you can help it. And you want to be comfortable, so be sure to bring clothing appropriate for the forecast. A sweatshirt, blanket and extra towels may come in handy, even in the summer.
    4. Do a pre-trip inspection: This is good advice for daytime boating as well, but at night it’s crucial that your navigation lights work, for starters. You also need a horn, plenty of fuel, a radio, a flashlight, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets for all passengers.
    5. Slow down: Speed is a factor in many boating accidents, and the limited visibility at night makes the water even more dangerous. Remember, you aren’t going to be the only one on the water at night, so know the right-of-way rules.
    6. Pay attention. Know how to monitor the navigation lights of other vessels to recognize which direction they are going. Be particularly cautious about small vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as anchored or drifting boats. Their lights can be easily confused with lights onshore.
    7. Don’t get distracted – or drunk: It’s never okay to drink and operate a boat, so be sure you have a designated driver. And, though you’re out there to have fun, make sure you can still hear the sounds from approaching vessels. Keep the stereo low and your ears open.

While these tips are important, there’s nothing like experience to help ensure a safe voyage. If you’re a new boater or just in an unfamiliar vessel, you may want to put in more hours during the day before tackling an area at night. Even then, start with short evening outings and work your way up to a moonlight ride. And don’t forget to turn on the lights at the dock before you go!

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homeowners insurance At Synergy Insurance Group, we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable.

Contact us today to speak with an agent and get a free, no-hassle quote! Our agents are available to help you find the best coverage possible.


Getting Your Boat Out of Storage and into the Water

boating safety

Spring is here, and you’re ready to get out on the water. But is your boat ready?

Even if you’ve kept it properly stored for the winter and protected from the elements, there are still a number of things you need to do before hitting the local lakes and rivers.

While much of your focus will be on the boat itself, don’t forget other important things, such as your trailer, your vessel registration and, of course, your insurance coverage. We can help you with that. As far as the boat and trailer, check out these tips from Discover Boating, which provides boating information and public outreach on behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Engine and Electric

Your boat’s been sitting for a few months, so it’s not ready to zip across the water just yet. Here are a few things to check before firing up the ignition:

  • Make sure fuel hoses are not soft, brittle or cracked and check the system for leaks or damage. Also verify that fittings and clamps are secure.
  • Check all other belts, hoses and cables as well. Replace them if needed.
  • Inspect electrical connections for corrosion and verify your battery is holding a charge.
  • Check all fluid levels and change or top off as needed.
  • Test for proper ventilation.

Propellers and Hulls

Damage to your propeller or hull can make for an unpleasant day on the water. Here are some things to look for:

  • Propellers that have dings or distortion. This can lead to not only an unpleasant ride due to vibration but can also damage your drive train. While securing your propeller, check that the bearings are not worn out.
  • Hulls with blisters or cracks. Cleaning the hull (use an environmentally safe solution) gives you a good opportunity to check for damage. While you’re at in, clean above deck, too.


You should treat your trailer with as much care as your boat. After all, you can’t go boating if you can’t get your boat to the water.

  • Inspect the grease fittings on the hubs and reapply grease as needed.
  • Test the lights on your trailer each time before you get out on the road.
  • Rinse thoroughly after exposure to salt water.
  • Ensure your car jack will work to lift the trailer and that you will be able to loosen and tighten the lug nuts. You don’t want to be surprised when you’re on the side of the road.
  • Look over the trailer bunks once your boat is in the water to ensure the padding isn’t worn.

Safety Equipment

No matter how well your boat runs, you should never run it without the proper safety equipment. So take inventory of what’s on board to be sure you have:

  • Enough life jackets for all potential passengers. Make sure they’re in good condition, too.
  • Fire extinguisher. Be sure it’s the correct classification for your boat and is in working order.
  • Emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) so you can be found if you get lost.
  • Carbon-monoxide detector if there’s an enclosed area on your boat.
  • Working navigation lights.

Proper preparation can mean the difference between a great day on the boat and a disastrous one. So take a little time to make this boating season a happy and safe one.

Contact us today for a free boat insurance quote, and talk to one of our trusted agents. Hope to see you out on the water!