How To Prepare For Overnight Sleeping on Your Boat

There’s something undeniably enchanting about spending a night aboard a boat on a lake. However, it might induce anxiety if you’ve never tried it. Where will you sleep? What if there are leaks? How do you manage food, water, or even hygiene? Can you sleep on a boat comfortably and safely? These apprehensions can seem daunting, but proper planning and preparation can transform those trepidations into an exhilarating experience.

Think of it as a Camping Trip, and Plan Accordingly

Overall, you should think of sleeping on your boat as a camping trip and plan as such. If you were to go camping, you would need the right tools, clothing, food, and accessories. Enjoyable camping requires preparation—keep this attitude in mind when planning your boat trip.

Find a Cozy Cove

Overnight boating is all about location. You should find a cozy, protected area that provides you with calm waters. A cove or inlet is a great place to sleep in your boat. You should avoid any heavy-traffic areas or spots that will be hammered by heavy winds. To find the best spot, you’ll want to do some research, using maps to find a good location. You may even want to scout the area in person.

Anchor Properly

You don’t want to lose sleep worrying over the status of your anchors. Will they hold to the bottom? Are the knots tied correctly? Will slack on one side cause drift into nearby rocks? All of these worries can be prevented (or at least reduced) by anchoring properly.

Make sure you use the right anchors for the specific type of bottom (mud, rock, and sand, for example), and give the anchors enough line so they sit at an angle. You don’t want anchor lines going straight up, as they won’t hold nearly as well. Finally, be sure to anchor a safe distance from other boats, rocks, shallow reefs, and other potential hazards.

Prepare Your Food in Advance

When you’re on the boat, you probably don’t want to spend an entire evening preparing food. Instead, prepare your meals in advance so you can simply enjoy the night without wasting any time having to cook onboard.

Pack for Cool Overnight Temperatures

Even if you are boating off the Florida Keys, overnight weather can be cool or downright chilly. Pack plenty of warm clothing, including blankets and sweatshirts so you and your passengers don’t get too cold when the sun goes down.

Emphasize Safe Alcohol Consumption

We all want to have a good time on the water, but you need to make sure everyone is practicing safe alcohol consumption, especially at night. There’s no need to banish booze from your boat (you can if you want), but make sure that people drink in moderation and maintain safety throughout the evening.

Can you sleep on a boat on a lake?

As with marinas and anchorages, whether or not you can sleep on a boat on a lake depends on the location. Some lakes have designated areas where boaters can anchor for the night and sleep on their boats. These are often called boat camping areas. To be allowed in these designated areas, your boat must have proper sleeping accommodations for all the people aboard. It must also have a Coast Guard-approved, self-contained sanitary unit installed in a location with complete privacy for users. 

Some lakes have registration and inspection requirements that must be met before you will be allowed to sleep on the boat. Lakes that are situated in state or national parks may also have rules about how the boat must be moored during hours when the park is not officially open and what distance from the shore is acceptable. State and federal anchorage rules require all boats to display an anchor light when moored for the night.

Posted by Scott Freerksen “The Lake Guy”

Leave a Reply