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How do I handle my boat in cold weather?

The onset of cold weather presents additional challenges for Louisiana boaters. While many boat owners operate on the water without a problem in falling temperatures, it is important to take winter precautions in case the frigid weather impairs the operation of your boat, or worse, endangers the life of you or your passengers.

Frigid temperatures can produce ice, and since your boat is in the water, your vessel is especially vulnerable to ice buildups. Getmyboat recommends that you check the exterior of your craft for ice. Clean off your deck so that you and your passengers do not slip and fall. Similarly, check your masts for ice. Likewise, your antennae might catch some ice, which could impair your radio reception and transmission.

Ice can also affect your the engine of your boat and its power. You might find ice on your fuel lines, your steering cables or your bilge pump. Additionally, ice and cold weather could cause trouble for your battery. Make sure your battery has a full charge. Also look at the terminal and isolator connections to see that they are strong.  

Also keep in mind that fog and sleet can arise in cold weather, and although snow is a rare occurrence in Louisiana winters, a snowfall could happen as well. For these reasons, you want to have your navigation lights in working order. When weather pops up that can obscure your visibility, turn the lights on so that other sailing vessels may see you. And if the weather appears too harsh, steer for shore.

Boaters should also think about how to keep warm. Some boat captains stock up on oversized blankets in places where they are sealed from water. People who board boats in cold weather should also wear layers of clothing that ward off sharp winds and insulate body heat. This is crucial if someone falls overboard. Anyone that falls into cold weather is at severe risk of hypothermia and needs all available means to preserve body heat until a rescue is completed.

Cold weather necessitates extra steps to make sure your boating experience does not take a bad turn. Keep in mind that this article is not offering any legal advice on maritime law. This article is intended for educational benefit only.

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