Going out on the boat on December 31st or January 1st is a great way to ring in the New Year. Chances are, many of you fellow boaters will ring in the new year on the water. What better way to kick off the year than to enjoy some relaxing time with friends and family on your boat. One of the great things about living in a warm water port is that we can go out on our boats all year round, take pictures in the sunshine, and send them to all of our friends and relatives freezing in the colder parts of the country. (Cruel, maybe, but it helps to ease the pain I feel when taxes are due). Also, given the current COVID 19 conditions, being out in the fresh air while adhering to some social distancing is a great way to get in some safe socializing during the holidays!
Don’t Underestimate the Cold or the Weather
Before you load up the car and head down to the marina to ring in the new year on the water, consider a few things.
- The water is cold! In 50 – 60 degree water, typical for winter water temperatures in Coastal Southern California, hypothermia can begin taking effect in as little as 10 minutes, with loss of muscle mobility in 10 – 15 minutes and unconsciousness in 1 – 2 hours. This means that all passengers should wear life jackets when on the boat and not inside a protected cabin. This also means you should brush up on your man overboard procedures, so if someone does fall in the water, you know how to find them and get them back on board quickly.
- Watch the weather – we can get really complacent in Southern California when most of the year, the weather report is like a scene from “Groundhog Day”. But the weather tends to be more volatile in the winter time, with Santa Ana conditions and northwesterly cold fronts both causing trouble in coastal regions. So check the weather before you go out – and dress for the cooler morning and evening temperatures! Here’s a few great resources:
Party Hard but Not Recklessly
- You’re responsible for your guests’ behavior. Everyone loves a good time, and New Years is definitely a time to celebrate! (Especially this year – good riddance 2020!) But if your guests get out of hand, fall overboard, get injured, cause damage to other vessels, etc., as the operator of the vessel, you are responsible! So make sure everyone has fun, but keep it under control! Remember, the idea is to ring in the new year on the water not in it. I wrote a pretty cool post a while ago on how to get help during emergencies on the water which you can find here.
- DUI rules apply on the water just like they do on the road. There’s no difference between driving a vehicle and operating a vessel when it comes to DUI rules. .08 BAC is the legal limit. But the prudent mariner will let his/her guests enjoy the adult beverages and stay sober so as to be ready to respond to any emergent issues. Things happen on the water, and when they do, seconds count. Leave the alcohol alone until the boat is anchored or tied up.
With these thoughts in mind, get out on the water and celebrate safely! Clearer skies, crisp air, and maybe a hint of someone’s fireplace smoke to make it seem like winter! And don’t forget to send that photo to all your friends in the cooler climates!
Be safe out there!