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Old 06-30-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
Lt. JG
 
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Default boating in the dark Q's?

Hello,

I've got some concerns with boating in the dark and would like to solicit some helpful advice! Any tips or tricks of the trade for safe boating on a large lake and river system in the Inland Northwest (WA/ID) areas...

MAINLY how to NOT wreck my boat! Ive got my boat slipped on the Spokane River system, which connects to the Coeur d'Alene lake... I wanna feel comfortable driving, in the dark without whacking a dock, piling, the shore or another boat, etc...this sounds crazy but its a actual worry of mine.

BTW, Im in a 21ft runabout...
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

Planning to go out on the fourth to try to catch some fireworks? Definitely a concern of mine as well. All boats should have their port/starboard and stern lights which should be visible from 1-2 miles, depending on conditions and settings. I think on a lake they are only required to be visible from 1 mile? You may also look into installing lights on your boat for navigation, if it doesn't already have them, generally buoys and docks all have some kind of reflective paint. Just keep her slow and be cautious and you should be fine.

EDIT: Oh yea make sure that you have a working horn and/or some alternate air horn type device that can be heard for a distance so you can warn other boaters if someone else isn't being so smart or cautious. And, if you haven't taken a safety course, which I recommend you do, yield to the green lights and boater SHOULD yield to your red light (port side is red starboard side is green). If you haven't taken a boaters safety course most states accept the BoaterExam.com one, which you can take free of charge and pay $30 when you want your certificate and local states license/certificate (most insurance companies will give you a discount for having one as well).
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

EXACTLY! Ive got a slip this year, and dont have to worry about fighting my way back to a public boat launch full of drunks--I am heading to Cabelas to find a decent spotlight and will check out the river tonight, make sure my lights are still in good working order...thanks for the quick response
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Old 06-30-2009, 11:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

No problem. I am a new boater too, don't know that I am brave enough to go out in the dark yet though. Make sure you have a functional depth finder too, it can be helpful so you don't run aground. Hopefully some of the veterans here can chime in if they have any more helpful advice as I'd like to see what they have to say as well.
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Old 07-01-2009, 01:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

good question about boating at nite...here in the pacnorwest we have some unique boating compared to others in the country...like the water is about 2 degs above freezing...the outside temps are in the 80's....talk about shocking...then there's the threat of dead heads and logs floating in the water....then there's the occasional drunk running full tilt on the throttle with no lites....

what I'd do if I were you guys wanting to boat on a lake ...are several things...mount a light on the bow rail to use only when approaching the dock...it will wreck your nite vision if you use it on the lake...
get as strong a light as you can handle....a good 100k candle pwr is nice..but costco had a 25meg light that will start a fire 600 yards away....!!!...and has recoil when you turn it on!!!....that will show you where the dock is...

the next thing is to have a decent gps working as well as a good fish finder that will show the contour of the bottom....this will let you see the bottom so you'll know when the shore is coming up...

make sure all of your nav/anchor lites are working properly......

follow someone that is ahead of you going slow....there's safety in numbers...


finally....last but not least....slow the heck down!!!....your boat doesn't have brakes and you won't be able to react fast enough in the event of something suddenly spotted in front or to the side of your boat...be prepared for anything and everything....I know it sound like I'm paranoid but last yr some idiot in a fast boat rammed a sail boat going full bore and had no lights....no sense....and was all liquored up....slammed right into the sail boat that was doing something like 3 knots and killed someone on board....killed one person on thier boat and injured everyone else......he got off easy.......something like a broken arm...


so....those are my recommendations...hope you guys all have a wonderful and safe 4th........post your party photo's ... :hello:
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Old 07-01-2009, 07:28 PM   #6
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

Thanks for the advice and great tips!

Here's what I learned in ONE flippin' night out...feel free to chime in and its OK to laugh at my misery! Haahaa

1. if you happen to wear contact lenses, like myself, you might wanna bring eye drops with you--cool breeze and plastic contacts = DRY eyes and piss-poor vision!

2. clean your windshield PRIOR to heading out in the dark--good lord my windows are filthy and that filth loves to reflect the 3.5 million candlepower spotlight right into you eyeballs!

3. watch out for MORONS...even on "off nights" when you least expect a group of retarded kids smoking dope on a boat with the lights turned OFF> I could have whacked those idiots if I didnt pay attention.

Beyond that it was a great evening, my lights worked fine-was able to cruise and feel fairly comfortable and not worry about running into a dock--a few more practice runs and I will have it down-pat!

FYI: Seapuppy-I think I read an article last year where a guy smacked into a boat on the Columbia river killing someone...very sad.

I went just fast enough to stay on plane, and felt fine with that-Otherwise the speed limit is 25MPH @ night.

Ive done the boater safety course, and my depth finder helps out ALOT

Thanks again!
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Old 07-03-2009, 04:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

GPS is really handy at night also.
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Old 07-06-2009, 01:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

very true,

i have the stock depth finder, which keeps me from running into any shallow water- I am still waiting to get the right fishfinder/GPS combo--rough ecomony + less hours @ work = no fish finder this season..

I really need to get working to get a good fish finder, as I do not have a working speedometer and dont feel like fixing the stock gauge, once again...

I spent last evening on the boat, watching the fireworks-due to a variety of friends' opinions I chose not to go out on the river-but sat at the dock and had a great night! Thanks for all the advice...
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Old 07-06-2009, 03:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

I some times go out fishing with a friend at night off the coast of Western Australia, (on his boat) the kind of spots that most people wouldn’t go there in the day due to reefs protruding every were or more to the point just under the surface. What he did was to go there in the day and plot the courses on the g.p.s. so at night you just stick to the g.p.s. The near by islands and rock outcrops are quite visible and also show up on his g.p.s. so I suggest that if you are going to go out at night to certain spots pre plot it to you g.p.s in a day trip. At least you will know there are no fixed hazards on that course
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

#1) Be sure to use your nav lights but don't expect others to use them. The later sounds rather stupid but I boat on the Chesapeake Bay and am amazed by how many boats either don't use nav lights or use them incorrectly, i.e. they have their nav lights turned on when anchored (indicating they are moving) instead of just using the anchor light (indicating they are anchored..duh).
#2) Use your GPS along with a chart so you know where you are at all times. If you dont' have one, get one, even if it is a small handheld unit)
#3) Use your spotlight to periodically check your surroundings. If you don't have a built in light, get a small portable unit that you can plug in to a cigarette lighter.
#4) This also qualifies as a #1) - Go SLOW!!
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Old 07-14-2009, 07:16 PM   #11
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

I'd recommend being VERY cautious about using and RELYING on GPS at night. Particularly at slow speeds. I often find that if I'm going too slow, the GPS doesn't accurately pick up exact location and is junk in regards to direction. I've witnessed this on both my Garmin and Raymarine GPS'. Frequently if I'm going too slow, the GPS will show me that I'm on land when I'm clearly not. It will appear as though I took the boat up over land when passing around a narrow point. I would HATE to have the reverse occur and the GPS indicate that I'm in the channel, when I'm really NOT.

I keep the wife on diligent lookout in all directions at all times. I'm doing the same, but I don't have eyes behind my head. It keeps me on my toes to diligently watch guages, electonics, and watch where we're going as well. Technically we do this ALL the time when we're running, but she is actively watching at night, not socializing or entertaining guests. She will keep frequent and open dialogue with me, even to tell me that everything behind and to my sides looks good. she also typically works the spotlight and will keep track of Nav Aids (including numbers) and will compare to both papercharts and electronics to help make sure we're on track.

I don't typically go somewhere at night that I haven't been to in the day. I record the course in the GPS for future use (but don't rely solely on the GPS).

FWIW: I recommend all boaters send their entire immediate family or anyone who will be boating with you regularly to the boaters safety course. I had my wife take a navigation course as well. It REALLY helps to be working as a team.
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: boating in the dark Q's?

Go to ebay and pick yourself up a nightvison scope. I just bought a bushnell for $200.00. works great and you can see the idiots coming from a long way off.
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