For many years, I was boating out of South Florida, where I didn’t need to worry much about cold winters. However, since moving to Georgia, the boating season is much shortened despite rarely facing freezing temperatures. It is important to take advantage of warm winter days when the opportunity presents itself. I recommend looking at the forecast and planning a day to go out boating and fishing when the weather is right. Get out and go winter boating whenever possible. 

How To Plan The Weather For Winter Boating

Again, I prefer to take advantage of any chance I get to boat during the winter months. Here in coastal Georgia, the winter temperatures average in the mid-50s. However, from time to time, the highs reach near 70. 

In order to plan days to boat, I recommend keeping an eye on the ten-day forecast. While you won’t always find a day within the forecast range, keep looking from week to week. 

In North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, you’ll need to pick and choose your days. North of North Carolina will be limited at best. 

Preparing The Boat For A Warm Winter Day Of Boating

When you see a good weather day pop up, make sure the boat is ready to go. You don’t want to be scrambling to make repairs when you’re actually able to use the vessel. 

For this reason, I recommend measuring the charge on the battery, starting the engine, testing the bilge pump, and powering up the electronics. 

Unfortunately, boaters pull up to the ramp all too often without ensuring that the boat is functioning properly. The end result is they head back home, and the day is wasted. 

The Air Temperatures Will Fluctuate On Land Vs. On The Water

Undoubtedly, the air temperature will be cooler in the water than on the land. Remember, the water temperatures are cold during the winter; with that said, it cools that air just above the surface. 

Often, boat owners are surprised at the significant difference between the forecasted high and the actual high while on the boat. 

For this reason, you need to make sure that you are dressed appropriately despite the predicted high temperature. 

Considerations When Boating On Warm Winter Days

There are a multitude of things to consider when boating during the winter months. For the most part, they all revolve around safety. Here are the things to keep in mind. 

The Water Temperatures Are Dangerously Low

Despite the air temperatures climbing periodically during the winter, the water temperatures will remain low. Without question, you and your passengers are subject to hypothermia if you end up in the water. 

Importantly, you’re going to want to remain centered on the boat. Do not take the chance of going over the side and into the water. 

You Won’t See Much Boat Traffic

In the winter, the number of boaters on the water is substantially reduced compared to the summer. 

In the event that you run into a mechanical issue, you are unlikely to receive assistance from fellow boaters. Keep this in mind as you are cruising on the water. 

Less Likely That Marine Rescue Is Nearby

As mentioned above, there are fewer boaters on the water during the winter in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Fewer boaters means less marine patrol and rescue cruising the waterways. 

Again, if you run into an issue, whether it be a mechanical or medical emergency, you may be required to wait for extended periods of time. 

Wear And Pack The Appropriate Clothing

Remember, despite the forecasted high, the air temperature will be cooler during the winter while on the water. For this reason, you need to dress and pack appropriately. 

Don’t Wear Shorts

Even during the coldest winter days I enjoy wearing shorts over pants. However, I would avoid wearing shorts while boating in North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia in the winter. 

Trust me, you will not be comfortable especially while running at fast speeds or if the forecast calls for wind. With that said, you should always wear pants. 

Dress In Layers

You’re always better off over-dressing compared to underdressing. Layers are ideal because you can shed them as necessary. 

Importantly, the morning will likely be colder compared to the afternoon. Therefore, if you leave the dock early, you’re likely going to need to adjust the number of layers by the afternoon. 

Furthermore, I recommend bringing foul weather gear even if no rain is anticipated. The gear will not only keep you dry from the spray but also act as a wind blocker. 

Avoid The Winter Hats And Gloves

I have gone on the boat plenty of times when the temperatures were so low that I needed to wear a winter hat and gloves. 

However, despite the cold water, you will not need a hat and gloves if you’re expecting weather above 60 degrees. 

Go Winter Boating: Don’t Miss Out

You need to be ready to go if the opportunity presents itself to the boat during the winter. I am always looking ahead at the forecast to find ideal days to fish or cruise with the family. Remember to remain safe with the cold water temperatures. Lastly, dress appropriately despite the forecasted high.