10 Tips For Enjoying Cold-Water Boating in Winter

By Ken Schultz.

While most boats are laid up over winter, there’s still plenty of boating in winter to enjoy: in warmer climates for the purpose of fishing or simply cruising, on cold rivers where winter steelhead exist, in coastal waters for migrating species, and so forth.

Whether you’re boating in winter from an open boat, a boat with a cabin, or simply a kayak, you have to respect the elements and be aware of the effects of exposure to cold air and water, even on a warm and windless day. While you should always have all of the normal safety equipment when you go boating, here are ten tips specific to enjoying cold-water boating in winter.

1. Consider Survival Wear

Wearing appropriate clothing and footwear is obviously important for winter boating. However, a float coat or survival suit is a good investment if you’ll be venturing out often.

2. Have Two Pairs of Warm Gloves

If you’re fishing, one pair will likely get wet. Save the second pair for the ride home.

3. Use Hand and Toe warmers

Put hand warmers in your gloves or at least in your jacket pockets. Use toe warmers in your boots, or maybe electric socks or boot-warming insoles.

4. Cover Your Face and Eyes

Use ski goggles to cover your eyes when the boat is running fast, especially if you’re the operator. A warm balaclava should cover all exposed facial flesh. Remember that wind chill is considerable the faster the boat is moving.

5. face the Stern; Go Low

If you’re a passenger, put your back to the bow and face the stern when the boat is running. Get low if possible; some passengers sit on a bean bag on the floor.

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