7 tips for breaking ice with boat hulls: what to say?

What kind of ice break with boat hulls is that? While it sounds a bit extreme to boaters in the deep south, boaters who live in the Mid Atlantic or the Midwest are sure to confirm that snow and ice can be a very real part of the spring boat. Does this mean that you cannot take out your beloved boat until the weather has stabilized? Not necessarily, but it does mean you need to know how to safely boot in persistent cold weather.

To drive safely in the ice, you need to take extra precautions. In addition to knowing how the cold can affect your body, you should forget about learning how to prepare your ship for cold weather. Check out this list for some important cold weather boating safety tips.

Breaking Ice With Boat Hulls: 7 Tips For Boating Safety

1. The most important thing to do when boating in cold weather is to put on a swim jacket or gown. A swim jacket has a built-in PFD and provides better protection against hypothermia in cold weather than a standard life jacket or PFD. When going out in cold weather, it is always advisable to bring a dry change of clothes.

2. Check and charge your boat batteries regularly. If possible, keep a spare battery on board, as cold weather will drain a boat battery faster than warm or hot weather.

3. Make sure that all of your safety equipment is dry and in good working order. This includes signal flares, sound generating equipment, and all other marine safety equipment required on board the U.S. Coast Guard. Also, make sure you have a marine radio on board to call for help in an emergency (via channel 16). Do not rely on a mobile phone that may not work in extreme weather conditions. A marine radio can be traced back to the location of a distressed boat, reducing emergency response times.

4. Remove snow or ice from your boat deck, hull, living space, bilge area, and exposed equipment. Snow and ice build-up can block scuppers or cause flotation problems. Have a plastic shovel handy that you can use for this purpose in cold weather (plastic will not scratch the gelcoat of your boat).

5. Check your fuel lines and keep the fuel tank refilled to prevent condensation.

6. In cold weather, bays, bays, or bays (areas where the water is calm) can have a very thin layer of ice. If the layer of ice is very thin, you may be able to position someone at the bow of your boat to try to break ice with boat hooks. Use a stop-and-go approach in these situations and make sure the ice is completely broken before proceeding. Never try to drive your boat through ice, no matter how thin it appears. Keep this in mind when deciding where to go boating in cold weather.

7. In freezing weather, remember that it is warmer below the surface of the water. If you have an outboard motor, put it in the water to reduce the chance of your gearcase freezing.

To be safe in ice, you need to do your homework to make sure you and your boat are properly prepared. If you’re wondering which types of boats are best for different conditions, our boat comparison tool can help you learn about the unique characteristics of each type of boat.

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide in southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has been featured in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @ shefishes2.

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