Many sailors and boaters enjoy the solitude afforded when taking a boat out solo. However, a lone boater has fewer resources at his disposal, so take extra precautions when you go boating alone and follow the tips below to ensure a safer trip.
Those who boat alone should make safety a primary consideration. Boaters can prepare by taking a boating safety course, available through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons and commercial providers. Classes may vary from the traditional classroom to online. Boaters will also benefit from using a pre-departure safety checklist.
Before heading out, make sure you have all required safety equipment on board and that you know the location of each item. In an emergency situation your time will be limited; knowing where each safety item is located could save your life. Also be sure to file a float plan with a trusted party.
During the fall and winter months, it’s essential for boaters to wear weather appropriate clothing. Even if it’s warmer than the average fall day, the water will be much colder. Wear layers, socks, non-slip shoes and remember to bring a change of dry clothing in a waterproof bag. As always, but especially when boating alone, wear a life jacket. If you end up in the water, the buoyancy provided by your jacket may help you stay with the boat and even could allow you to get back aboard the boat. If you’re unable to get back on the boat, it may help keep you alive until help arrives. Plus, the bright color makes you easier to spot in the water.
Consider purchasing a VHF radio equipped with digital selective calling (DSC,) it can save time in the event of a life-threatening situation. If you have one make sure to register it. The DSC radio sends an automated digital distress alert containing your Maritime Mobile Service Identity number and position just by pressing a button. Also consider purchasing an engine kill device. If you have an engine kill device, keep the lanyard connected to your person while underway.