Boating at night would be a dream for many people, it is quite awesome. But, before starting the trip at night, you should have some things with you on the boat. So, you can sail safely during the night.
- Thermal imaging camera
- Install an automatic identification system
- Use lights for navigation
- Depth finder
- Communication devices
- Torchlight and flares
- Keep all the safety equipment
|Thermal imaging camera||Nice to have|
|Automatic identification system||Must for boating at night|
|Lights||Must for boating at night|
|Depth finder||Nice to have|
|Communication devices||Must for a boat|
|Torchlight and flares||Must for a boat|
|Safety equipment||Must for a boat|
|Chartplotter||Nice to have|
You can sail without these things, but if you use these things, it will help you a lot. Sometimes using these devices, also causes some problems, if you are not aware enough, what’s going around you.
The best way to prevent accidents while sailing at night is to watch the boat conditions regularly while you are sleeping. Other than this, there is no good option. If there are two people in the boat, then make shifts accordingly and sail.
1. Thermal imaging camera
First, let us find, why do we need to have a thermal imaging camera on a boat.
Thermal imaging cameras play a crucial role while boating at night. You can see what is there in front of your boat if there is no light. These cameras will detect the objects based on heat, not based on light. So, you can see everything a bit clearer if there is no light.
First off all this device is a bit expensive. So, don’t buy them unnecessarily if you don’t boat at night. A thermal imaging camera makes videos out of the heat, not light. Regular cameras make videos or images with the help of visible light, just like our eyes do, whereas these cameras make videos from heat, warmer objects appear white, cooler objects appear dark in general.
Thermal imaging cameras are not the same as the night vision cameras. Night vision cameras need a little bit of light to function properly, if they didn’t get enough light, you can’t see anything, if you get more light then you can’t see anything too.
Thermal imaging cameras will work regardless of light. Thermal imaging cameras work through the smoke and fog or mist. With the help of these cameras, you can drive your boat in a fog without worrying about what is ahead of your boat.
Nowadays, these camera brands are producing cameras with high-quality standards, and they are giving a small screen with a camera. You can fix the screen near the steering wheel. With the help of the screen, you can operate the camera and you can see in all directions.
These cameras come with a 360-degree angle and 90 degrees tilt angle. We can see in every direction and every angle with the help of these cameras. So, by fixing these cameras on a boat will help you a lot while sailing at night.
Sionyx camera has a small eyepiece in the camera, with the help of that, we can use the camera as a telescope too. These cameras have many advantages, have this kind of camera on your boat if you want to sail at night safely.
Check this video on the difference between a normal camera and a thermal imaging camera. He explained how to install, and how to use them on your boat.
2. Install an automatic identification system
First, let us find, why do we need to install an automatic identification system(AIS) on a boat.
By installing an AIS on your boat, you can communicate with other boats in the sea. This will let you see if there are any boats in the given radius or not. If both the boats have this AIS, then you can identify the other boats, you can find the distance among them and type of the boat as well.
The only problem with the Automatic identification system(AIS) is all the boats should have this device installed on their boat. Otherwise, you can’t locate other boats on your radar. To locate the location, both the boats should have this device on their boat.
Other than that, AIS is an excellent device needed to be installed in your boat. You can avoid collisions between the boats with the help of this device. It is like a navigation system, a search rescue system, and all the coast guard boats will use these devices for communication.
Generally, you need to install a class-B type of Automatic identification system(AIS) in your boat. Class-A type is for big passenger ships, and the ships carry the cargo with above 300 tons.
During night time, this device will help you a lot, even if you can’t see anything with the naked eyes. You can see the exact location of the other boats with the help of this device. Even if there is any fog, you can use this device.
Range depends on the types of the device you buy. The class – B Automatic identification system has a range of 5 – 10 nautical miles. Which is good enough for a sailboat.
The automatic identification system (AIS) will follow certain symbols to tell which type of boat, others are using. Based on that, you can take the necessary steps. It is a good device and essential for the boat.
3. Use lights for navigation
First, let us find, why do we need to use lights while boating at night
Lights play a crucial role when you are boating at night. This will indicate other boaters that you are there. There are different kinds of lights you should use while boating at night. Each pattern has a meaning to it.
Generally, there are three types of lights (or light positions) for a boat. Everyone should follow them who’s boat size is less than 39 feet in length. To communicate with other boaters in the sea(or whatever place you are driving the boat).
But, don’t use any party lights on the boat. These lights vary for big ships. There will be so many lights on a big boat or ship, but the navigation rules are the same for all sizes of the boats.
- Red and Green light near the bow
- white light on the mast or the top of the boat
- Stern light on the back of the boat
Red and Green light near the bow
- You should keep one red and green light on the bow side of the boat. The red light indicates the port side or the left side of the boat. The green light indicates the starboard side or the right side of the boat.
White light on the mast or the top of the boat
- You should keep one white light on the top of the mast or the top of the boat. This white light should be facing in the forward direction and covers almost both sides (port and starboard) of the boat.
- Generally, for a sailboat, it will on the top of the mast, and for a normal boat, it will be on the top of the boat.
Stern light on the back of the boat
- The stern light will be at the backside of the boat, attached to the stern. That’s why the name suggests stern light. This is a white light at the back of the boat, which faces towards the backward direction of the boat.
- This stern light is not needed for a boat, which is under 39.4 feet in length.
These are the main types of lights you will see while you are boating at night. Lights are compulsory for a boat if you are boating at night. Otherwise, you might end up causing problems to other boaters and yourself too.
There is one more light many people will use, which is all-around light, which will be placed anywhere on the boat. This all-around light is also sometimes called as an anchor light. Which means they will switch on the all-around light when the boat is anchored.
4. Depth finder
A depth finder is essential if you boating at night because you can’t see what is there in front of you during the night with naked eyes. First, we will find, why do we need a depth finder for a boat.
The depth finder on a boat is used to find the depth of the water you are boating in. It measures the depth of the water by sending a sonic pulse and based on the time it takes to receive the echo when the sonic pulse toches the ground.
This device is very useful if you are boating at night, where you can’t see the depth with your eyes. You can prevent the hull damage if you have one of these on your boat.
There are a variety of devices available out there and pick a good one based on your needs. Nowadays even with fish finders, you can see the depth.
5. Communication devices
Communication devices play a crucial role while boating. Without these devices, you can’t drive a boat peacefully in the water. The basic communication devices are
- 1. Vhf radio
- 2. EPIRB
- 3. Satellite phone or messenger
With the help of these, you can tell your location and ask for help by contacting the coat guards or informing your family numbers. The above four devices are enough for communicating with others while boating.
Check my article on Communication devices for a boat: All you need (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned all the communication devices you need to have on your boat.
Vhf radio is essential for a boat, with the help of this device you can communicate with others (other boaters or coats guards). If you are in an emergency, then by pressing the emergency switch on the back of the radio, it will send your location to the coast guards or other boaters near you.
Vhf radio is a very common device you will see on many boats. The most reliable, least expensive, and the best way to get in touch with the coast guards is with the help of VHF radio.
If you are thinking to buy a VHF radio, then check my article on Consider these things while buying a VHF radio (don’t worry, it will open in a new tab).
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon is essential for a boat because whenever you are in an emergency, you can use this device to send the alert to the coast guards. EPIRB transmits signals directly to the satellite. So, the coast guard will get notified, and they will help you out.
This device will alert search and rescue services (SAR) in case of an emergency out at sea. It is a tracking device that transmits a signal on a specified band to locate a lifeboat or people in distress.
EPIRB transmits signals directly to the satellite. The signal consists of a digital code that gives information such as the boat’s identification, date of the event, the nature of distress, and the position.
The satellite receiving terminals on the ground (Local User Terminal) uses that digital code and send it to MRCC (Mission Rescue Co-Ordination Centre). The MRCC is responsible for the SAR operations and oversees the execution of the rescue mission.
Satellite phone or messenger
The name itself tells us that it is used to call or send messages or sometimes emails with the help of the satellite. If you are in an emergency, then you can inform the coast guards with these devices. These satellite devices are very essential for boating in seas or oceans.
But, buy either a satellite phone or a satellite messenger, don’t but both of them at a time. If you have a satellite phone, it is enough and vice versa. If you already have a satellite messenger or an EPIRB, then no need to buy a satellite phone.
6. Torchlight and flares
Torchlight is essential if you are boating at night. With the help of this, you can signal others for help. If you are in an emergency, you can use a torchlight to indicate that you are there for help. So, buy a brighter light.
Torchlight or flares are essential if you are boating at night. Keep extra torchlights or flares with you on the boat. But, don’t forget about the safety equipment for a boat.
7. Keep all the safety equipment
First, let us know, why do we need to have night safety gear on a boat.
Safety gear for a boat is essential if you are boating at night. If you are in any danger, you can signal others by using a torchlight or flares. Sometimes, it may save your life by having them on your boat at that time. So, don’t hesitate to keep them with you if you are boating at night.
Remember this before going for boating, have a checklist, of things that you need to be taken whenever you are going for boating. Keep that checklist on the boat, near the entrance or the steering wheel, so that you won’t forget those things on the list.
Check my article on Safety equipment for a boat: 31 things you need. In that article, I mentioned all the safety equipment you need for boating in lakes and seas.
Chartplotter is another essential device you need to have it on your boat. First, let us find, why do we need to have a Chartplotter or multifunction display on a boat.
Chartplotter is essential for a big boat because, with the help of this device, you can see your location(Maps) on the screen, and in which direction you are heading. It is like google maps for a boat. Generally, Chartplotter is not necessary for a small boat.
While you are using a Chartplotter, you feel like you are using google maps on the boat. The basic functionality of the Chartplotter is to set the destination location point and drive in that direction. That’s why I said it is like google maps for a boat.
It is good to have a Chartplotter on your boat it is very useful if you don’t know in which direction you should travel in the sea or ocean. If you select the location in the Chartplotter, it will navigate your boat in that direction.
Chartplotter is useful if you are boating in the seas or oceans. There you won’t get cellphone signals properly. If you are boating in lakes or ponds, then you might not need a Chartplotter at all.
These are the basic safety gear you need while you are boating at night. I guess all these devices are sufficient for many boaters. Now we will see the safety tips for boating in the fog.
The best way to prevent accidents while boating at night is to watch the surroundings regularly. Other than that, there is no good option. If there are two people in the boat, then make shifts accordingly and sail.
1. Is it safe to drive a boat at night?
Driving a boat at night is not safe, but by following the boat night navigational rules and having some night safety equipment like torch lights or flares, you can make it safe. It all depends on how you are driving the boat? Be aware of the surroundings and drive slowly.
2. Is it difficult to drive a boat at night?
Driving a boat at night is difficult and challenging because there is no light at night. We need to depend on the light or radar or thermal imaging system to drive at night. Follow the night navigational rules and drive slowly.