How to Break Your Boat (Don’t do this)

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As you can see, most of these boats have lights. But...

Considering how many of us regularly run boats in all different bodies of water and weather conditions, it’s really rather shocking there aren’t a whole lot more disasters on the water. You’ve heard me talk about a few relevant topics in the past: How NOT to trim your boat,  the ins and outs of high speed boat handling, and of course, the potential disasters that go hand in hand with trailering a boat. Then, of course, there are the accidents that can be chalked up to sheer stupidity.


As you can see, most of these boats have lights. But…

On a recent trip I had the opportunity to watch a pair of boats collide. Hey, let’s be honest – as long as no one gets hurt and nothing gets majorly damaged, this can actually be pretty entertaining. And fortunately, no one did get hurt. The collision took place at speeds of six or seven MPH, and the most extensive damage ended up being a few dents in the aluminum hulls. No big deal.

But it could have been. Because one of the boaters, the one who got hit, not the one that did the hitting, was putting down the river in the pre-dawn hours with no lights. Even though he got hit, the accident was entirely his fault. And if someone had been hurt, we’d all know where to firmly place the blame.

Running a light-less boat in the dark is illegal. It’s dangerous. And yes, it’s utterly stupid. Now, all those things said, I have to admit to having done it myself, in the past. When you trailer to the launch point an hour before sunrise so you can ambush a flock or three of ducks, then discover your battery-powered boat light is deader than a door-nail, it’s extremely difficult to do the mature thing. Fess up – you’ve probably been there, too, right? And that’s pretty much what happened on the river, that morning. The guy thought his lights worked fine right up until he flipped the switch. Then, he wasn’t willing to delay his departure. Net result? BAM!

I’m pulling my emergency box out of the duck boat, and adding a spare set of batteries and a spare bulb for the light. You should do the same. Because if you run a boat through the dark and someone gets hurt, you won’t be able to blame anything but stupidity.


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