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Winter Boating Checklist

While some boaters winterize their vessels and retire their fishing poles to hang out in warmer places, others spend the winter using their boats for hunting, fishing, and transportation. With cold, windy weather, winter rewards boaters with quiet waters and changing scenery. Along with these changes come increased risks. Frigid, rough waters, frequent storms, icing conditions, darker days, and fewer people on the water to lend a hand means that winter boaters must take extra care to prepare. 

US Coast Guard statistics show that October, December, and January have the highest rates of fatal boating accidents. A cautionary tale in the summer could easily turn into a tragedy in the winter. Colder air and water temperatures, less light, and unruly seas are all factors in increased winter fatality rates. We all know someone in our community who has had a close call. 

I recently called the USCG for an overdue friend when they had not returned home from a hunting trip by the intended time. Hours later, they were found on the beach, cold in the dark, waiting for the tide to come up and float their beached skiff. While we don't like to admit that things can go wrong, the unexpected can happen to anyone. We don't need to spend an unplanned night on the beach in the freezing rain to imagine the gear one might wish they had with them. 

Many in the maritime community would tell you the rewards of winter boating outweigh the risks, but preparation is vital. To assist you in preparing for your winter outing, AMSEA has compiled a list of must-have materials for winter boating to keep you warm, fed, and prepared for darker, colder weather. This list can supplement your essential boating safety gear but should not replace it. For more resources on boating safety, visit here.


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