Night Boating

Can you pick out the other boat approaching? It can be difficult when there’s a backscatter of lights on shore.

Backscatter is caused by lights on the shoreline and their reflections on the water which can make it difficult to pick out an approaching vessel, navigation aid or other potential lighted hazard.

Even non congested shorelines lined with houses or cottages can hide vessels especially paddle craft or vessels at anchor which are only required to display an all-around white light.

When boating at night you need to see and be seen and preparation is the key.

First, check your navigation lights to ensure they’re working.

Familiarize yourself with the location of navigational aids and landmarks… everything looks different at night.

GPS Chartplotters are ideal for night boating to show the position of your boat relative to other hazards.

However, a GPS will not let you know where the other vessels are, which means you need to be aware and understand navigation lights and their configurations, to know what other boats are doing on the water.

If someone else is on-board, have them help by scanning the horizon for hazards and checking behind and to the sides for approaching or overtaking vessels.

When travelling, slow down. It’s more difficult to see hazards and judge distances at night.

To help preserve your night vision, minimize interior lighting such as courtesy lights, cabin lights, instrument panels and Chartplotter backlighting to ensure you’re not blinded by illumination from your own boat.

It takes some time for your vision to adjust to the dark and it can take up to 20 minutes to re-acquire your night vision after a flash of light.

If you are operating a paddlecraft at night, at minimum you will require a flashlight or lantern that you can use to signal your presence to any approaching vessel.

A better solution if you have a passenger on board is to have a light that they can hold when the need arises. Make sure they hold it high enough off the water so that it’s visible from 360 degrees.

However, the ideal solution is something that can stay lit while you paddle.

There are navigation lights specifically designed for kayaks that are strapped or suction cupped onto the deck of a kayak.

Whether your vessel is power, paddle or sail, you are the one responsible to see and be seen. If you keep in mind these simple tips, you’ll not only be able to enjoy all that night boating has to offer, but also avoid meeting someone by accident.

Fall Boating Tips

Going to extend your boating into the Fall?

Here are a few points to consider.


Check the Weather

Colliding warm and cool air masses in the Fall cause conditions to change quickly. Autumn storms can approach fast and unexpectedly. Check the weather before heading out, check it during your trip and keep a watchful eye out for approaching storm fronts.


Dress for the Water Temperature

On warmer days resist the urge to wear summer clothing. Dress in layers that can be easily removed or added …and make sure that your lifejacket can fit over your layers. The water is getting colder, and a sudden fall overboard can be deadly.

Have Lights

Darkness comes earlier each day during the Fall. Don’t get surprised by it. Make sure your navigation lights are in working order and your emergency flares are not past their expiry date.

Carry a couple of waterproof flashlights to help you unload at the dock or ramp after dark – and be sure to pack extra batteries.

Plan Ahead

There will be fewer boats on the water at this time of the year, so don’t depend on your fellow boater to help you out if you run into trouble.

Leave a float plan and carry a VHF radio or cellphone. A VHF radio can be used to call for help in places where your cellphone has no signal.


Wear Your Lifejacket

The gasp and panic as the result of a sudden fall into cold water can be deadly. A lifejacket will keep you afloat and provide some thermal protection as you deal with the situation.


Fuel up Before You Go

Many fuel docks close early during the Fall season. Don’t assume you can fill up at your destination for the trip home. Get informed and manage your fuel.

Fall can be a beautiful season to go boating. Remember these tips and you’ll make every trip a round trip.

Notice to Mariners vs. Notice to Shipping (Navigational Warnings)

What’s the Difference?

Before heading out, boaters should always tune their VHF radios into the Canadian Coast Guard’s continuous marine broadcast frequency that is applicable in their area so that they can familiarize themselves with any notices to shipping or urgent weather updates that might be available.


A number of boaters use the terms notice to mariners and notice to shipping synonymously. They are quite different.

A notice to mariner is actually a permanent change to a printed chart that should be adjusted by the mariner for safe navigation. For example, if a buoy is being removed permanently, the change will show up in the notices. It is up to the user to correct it on their charts. You might notice when purchasing a chart there may be an update stamped on the chart which includes a date that includes all previous changes.

Notice to shipping is what we are listening for on the continuous marine broadcasts. They are now referred to as navigational warnings and they inform the mariner of any temporary change that the mariner must know about for safe navigation. For example, if a buoy has drifted off-station or its light is extinguished, that temporary change would appear on the navigational warning list.


In addition to tuning the VHF radio into the CMBs before heading out, the Coast Guard has made navigational warnings and notices to mariner available on-line, which is a great help.

They can be found at:
Notices to Mariner:
Navigational Warnings: