1. Slow down
Visibility is reduced at night. Distances are harder to judge, obstacles are difficult to see, and moisture and temperature changes create distortion. Boats can come out of nowhere and debris and crab pots are nearly invisible on inky black water. Unless there’s a full moon, open water and no traffic, don’t run on plane.
2. Share the lookout duties
The driver has much to do including keeping an eye on gages, checking the chartplotter and actually driving. If you have someone along, keep that second pair of eyes strictly on the horizon with a periodic 360-dgree scan to ensure no one is coming up from behind or at an angle.
3. Tap into your preparations list
Before ever setting out in the dark, you should have refreshed the batteries in your flashlights headlamps and spotlights, put binoculars close to the helm and located personal floatation devices (PFDs). You may consider wearing PFDs with an attached strobe light or glow stick in case someone goes overboard.