For you, the idea of putting away the boat and fishing gear until spring is simply unacceptable. This is a way of life, and no amount of cold weather is going to keep you off the water. For this dedication, we applaud you. But at Sign and Glide, we also want to make sure that in your enthusiasm, you don’t forget to prepare for the very real challenges of boating during the winter months. Follow these tips, and you’ll be sailing into spring in style, with many warm memories of your time on the winter water.

The biggest threat to a winter boater is hypothermia, either when on the boat deck, or should someone fall overboard. The amount of time one can survive is greatly diminished in cold weather, so taking proper precautions to stay warm and effect a rapid rescue is of paramount importance. Start by making sure that you are dressed properly for the weather, and choose your apparel based on temperature, activity and risk of being in the water.

  • Flotation coats contain body heat and keep you warm; they can also serve as a life jacket in the event of being in the water. However, they will not protect from hypothermia; so are recommended primarily for moderate air temperatures, not extreme cold weather climates.
  • Survival (or immersion) suits provide the hypothermia protection you need in cold weather, and will significantly increase survival times if you find yourself in water. These are highly recommended for those in very cold weather and water.
  • Dry suits can be drawn tight around thermal layers worn under them, preventing water from getting close to the skin. However, they are not buoyant and in the event of an accidental water entry, likely will not be effective.

Regardless of your level of protection, you will want to take steps to make sure that your time exposed to the elements is as limited as possible. Never leave the dock without important pieces of gear that will help rescuers find you more quickly and get you back to warmth before the effects of frostbite and hypothermia can become critical. With all equipment, make sure you read all instructions prior to boarding, and are confident in your ability to use them should an emergency occur.

  • A personal position locater beacon emits a signal to help rescuers find you in darkness and water. The signal is activated when immersed in water, but can also be manually triggered.
  • A personal emergency light provides a bright flashing pulse that is far more visible than your head or body in the water; while a simple waterproof whistle may be the key to rescuers locating you.
  • Flares can be stored in immersion suit watertight pockets.

Even experienced boaters can sometimes cut corners and underestimate danger. Never skip proper precautions when going out on winter water – dress in thermal layers and wear hats and gloves to maximize heat conservation. A little planning will go a long way to ensure a safe and successful winter boating excursion.

Don’t forget the level of protection that Sign and Glide affords you – our affordable plans will guarantee that you are not stranded on the water unexpectedly. Give us a call, and make sure you are never on the water longer than you intended to be. Sign and Glide are your partners in safe and fun boating!