Tips To Navigate A Palmetto Marina At Night
For some, driving a boat at night causes intense anxiety. Humans are visual. When it’s dark, we get nervous. Who knows what could happen?
Yet, nighttime navigators need not fear. With the correct equipment and decent weather, a night cruise in and our of our Palmetto marina can be safe and enjoyable.
Slow and Easy
The first rule of night boating is to slow down. Even on a moonlit evening, you can’t see nearly as well as during the day. Objects won’t come into view until they are close. If you’re going too fast, you might not be able to avoid a collision. Don’t rush. Take it easy. Navigating around our Palmetto Marina can be tricky, but once you navigate out to the Manatee River.
Onboard lighting is tricky when navigating at night. You need backlighting to see your instruments and electronics, and you need an overhead light to read a chart.
But once your eyes have adjusted to the dark, too much onboard light can wreck your night vision. With this in mind, most marine electronics allow you to adjust the brightness of the backlighting, and many units also have a “night mode” with a darker background to keep illumination levels to a minimum.
Wherefore Are You?
Thanks to detailed electronic cartography from C-Map, Navionics, and others, today’s chart plotters show more detail than just your present position. Almost any fixed object above water, such as buoys, jetties, and exposed rocks, show up on the plotter, along with the boat’s relative position to these objects. Chart plotters also indicate water depth, reefs and other submerged objects.
Radar (radio detection and ranging) provides sight for you. It shows you what’s out there in the dark and tells you how far away it is.
While a chart plotter shows fixed objects, radar can show you almost everything above the water’s surface, including other boats. Marine radar has been around for dozens of years, but today’s radar systems are more refined and easier to use.
Light Up the Night
Boats don’t have headlights, and for good reason. In open water, the light reflecting off waves and mist is often more blinding than beneficial at night. However, there are occasions when a searchlight or spotlight is useful, particularly if you are trying to locate or identify a nearby object.
There are three basic types of spotlights — fixed-mount, remote-control searchlights; handhelds with 12-volt plugs; and rechargeable battery-operated handhelds.
Scope Things Out
You can also buy night vision, a technology that amplifies light through a scope. This allows you see as if it were daytime, though everything’s cast in green. For tricky waterways, night vision is extremely useful.
Learn the Lights
The U.S. Coast Guard has long-established light display standards for nighttime navigation. If you know the navigation light patterns, you can identify any type of vessel and its activity, as well as determine where to safely enter and exit a harbor at night.
Eyes and Ears
In the end, the most valuable thing to have is multiple sets of eyes and ears when darkness falls. There should be at least two pairs of eyes and ears on the bridge at night. Modern navigation gear is fantastic, but a good lookout is better.
Safety is always a top concern in our Palmetto Marina and getting in and out of our marina can help to make your trip that much easier.