We are entering that time of year when boaters need to use extra caution when venturing out. Two perils top the list of potential problems, with both having potentially disastrous results.
At the top of the list is a fast approaching cold front that can turn the bays and Gulf into dangerous territories. Each winter we lose anglers and other boaters to a sudden arrival of a cold front.
Cold fronts can and often do pack tropical force winds that create wave heights that are too much for many boats to endure resulting in capsizing. When thrown in waters where the temperatures are in the 40s or 50s, shock will quickly set in for most people. This is why it is particularly important for boaters to carry and wear Type I PFDs or life jackets.
While the regulations do not require Type I on most private boats, this is the only personal flotation device that will keep an unconscious person’s head above water. This is of utmost importance when exposed to shock inducing conditions.
The next peril that can quickly set in is fog. While I have been fortunate enough to have avoided encounters with the first concern discussed above, I have been trapped by sudden fog setting in.
A number of years ago a friend joined me for a fishing trip to the North Jetty one January morning. Visibility was excellent when we pulled out of Galveston Yacht Basin; however, in the early afternoon, heavy fog set in.
Before we could make it across the channel, visibility was less than a quarter mile making the trip just too risky. Our only navigation device was a compass and we did make it to the Bolivar Beach where the boat was beached until the next day when the fog lifted enough to return. It was not a pleasant experience.
Remember, always be aware of the weather forecasts and always put safety first!