The lure of the open water, even during cold weather, can be overpowering. In locales (like ours!) where year-round boating is possible, do not let the cold keep you from experiencing a different — and exciting — facet of boating. Extra preparation and precautions should be taken before heading out on the water when the thermometer heads downward.
Layer, layer, layer – You’ve likely heard this from your local weather forecaster several hundred times over the past few years, but layering truly is one of the best ways to stay warm. That’s because each piece of clothing traps a layer of insulating air. And as the temperature or your activity level changes, you can shed a layer at a time until you’re comfy again. Dressing properly is key to enjoyable winter cruising. Start with long underwear and add layers. Though scientists recently debunked the belief that the most heat escapes through the head, it’s still advisable to wear a warm hat and warm, water-resistant gloves. Some winter cruisers invest in exposure or flotation suits. Similar to ski suits, they are insulated and keep boaters warm over just a layer of light clothing.
Ship Shape – Check the boat’s furnace to ensure you will be nice and cozy inside the boat. Carry additional fenders and lines.
Watch out for wind – In the winter, storms tend to roll in fast and leave in a hurry. Don’t forget to check the weather well before you head out. If you’re caught in the wind, make sure you’re ready. Careful and safe boating is very important for the safety of your passengers. Take it slow and watch out for fellow boaters.
Entertain Yourself – The days are short and the nights are long. If you plan to spend the night in a remote bay, bring books, videos and other entertainment.
Ready the Crew – Make sure each crew member has the proper cold weather clothing for comfort inside or outside the boat. Bring an umbrella, they are useful for hustling from the boat to the pub or marine store.
Plan a Staycation – Bring all your favourite foods, beverages, books and games and spend a night or two at your home port.
Though winter cruising may seem unappealing to the unfamiliar, the hardy few who do it know it offers a chance to experience familiar waters in new ways. The landscape takes on a new cloak, the crowds thin out and well-known places feel somehow different. And there are few pleasures better than curling up in a warm salon with a book on a rainy winter day.