If you’re seeking a particular type of fish that lurks close to the shore, it’s essential that you learn how to navigate shallow waters in your boat. Or maybe you’re just hoping to better understand how to cross the shallow water as your head out to larger depths.

Whatever the case, Norfolk Marine has gathered some useful information to help you out. For more information or if you’re still in the market for a boat, be sure to swing by our dealership. You’ll find us conveniently located near Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Hampton, VA. We also serve those in Williamsburg and Cape Charles.

Be Prepared

Every successful boating trip begins with the right amount of planning and preparing. First, confirm you know how to operate your boat. This might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised. If you’re not too confident in your skills, there are several courses hosted by the United States Coast Guard. They’ll provide you with plenty of pro tips that’ll help you learn everything you need to know for a smooth, safe voyage.

Next, be sure you know how to read the different depths of the water. This helps you know how to go about adjusting your approach based on the depth you’re in. Don’t forget to use plastic-coated prints or electronic versions of depth charts for the body of water you’re conquering. They’ll help you navigate the water alongside obstacles, such as sandbars.

Additionally, you’ll want to check the weather forecast before you head out. If you notice a storm is brewing, be safe and stay home. Your boat isn’t built to withstand the rough conditions that come with a storm. The tide cycles can affect the depths of the water, so check those as well.

Watch The Depth

When you begin cruising around, remember to be aware of your draft. This term refers to how high the water comes to the sides of your boat. Always stay in water that’s deeper than your draft. If you don’t, you risk running aground when you reach shallow water.

Your boat has a planing hull that sits lower in the water than the rest of the vessel. When you pull it up to speed, your boat’s draft will shift. This enables you to push through slightly shallower water. However, you’ll need to be cautious of any obstacles in the area as you do this.

Another thing you’ll want to take note of is the color of the water. If the color suddenly changes, it can indicate a change in the depth of the water. If the water is brown or white, it often indicates the bottom is close to the surface. Other indicators of shallow water include uneven surface areas and eddies. Water that’s clear, blue, or green, suggest that the bottom is much further down below. Be aware of these clues and use them to your advantage when you’re navigating shallow waters.

Drive Responsibly

Keep in mind that operating a boat is similar to driving a car in that you need to stay responsible at all times. If you’re the one steering the boat, you’ll need to be sober. You want to have a clear head and focus so you can handle unexpected situations in an instant. Anyone who steps aboard a boat should know how to swim and should be wearing a well-fitting life jacket. As you’re driving, leave plenty of room between you and other vessels on the water.

We hope that this guide for navigating shallow waters has been helpful. You can always give us a call or visit our dealership if you have additional questions. We’re located near Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Hampton, VA. We also serve Williamsburg and Cape Charles.