Sun Safety for Boating: Tips to Keep You and Your Boat Safe from the Summer Sun

Boat riding the waves in the sun.

Imagine the cool breeze blowing through your hair as you zoom through the water on your boat, poised to hit your favorite fishing spot, and nab that prize bass!

Boating is an awesome summer activity. It gets the kids outside and away from the television. It’s also a great way to get away from it all when you need a break.

But boating during the hot, summer months can come with its downsides. You and your boat are exposed to strong UV rays. This can damage your skin, cause dehydration, and make your boat look faded and dirty. 

In this article, we’ll talk all about sun safety for boating. We’ll give you some tips to keep you and your boat safe in the hot summer sun.

Sunscreen vs Sunblock

woman holding and applying suntan lotion on a beach
Image by boophotography from Getty

Of course, we all know that applying sunscreen is a must. Or is it sunblock? Well, it turns out, there’s a difference. It’s important to know the difference between sunblock and sunscreen so you can make the right choice about the products. 

Sunscreen is made from chemicals that actually absorb into your skin. Once it’s absorbed, sunscreen keeps UV rays from penetrating through the skin layers. Sunblock works more like a barrier. It stays on top of the skin and bounces the rays away before they can do any damage.

When choosing sun protectant for your skin, think about your skin type. More sensitive skin will often do better with sunblock rather than sunscreen. But if you’re planning to get wet, sunscreen might have better staying-power than sunblock. 

Choose a product that has an SPF of at least 30 when you’re planning to spend many hours out on a boat. Always opt for the waterproof stuff when you can. Even if you’re not planning to swim, you’ll probably sweat. Reapply regularly throughout the boating trip.

Time of Day Matters

A sailboat on the ocean in the evening sun.
Image by Bianca Castillo on Unsplash.

Be mindful of timing when you’re boating in the summer. Opting to take the boat out during cooler times of day saves you and your boat from the most damaging UV rays. 

The middle of the day is the worst for sun exposure. So, if you can, try to plan your boating trips in the morning or the evening. Then you won’t have to wrestle with the hot, midday sun. 

If you must boat during the hottest part of the day, make sure to bring plenty of sunblock and the right sun accessories. Let’s talk more about those now!

The Right Sun Accessories

There are a handful of accessories that invaluable when boating in the sun. The first one is a broad-brimmed hat that will keep the sun off your face and neck. Find one with a strap that goes around your neck so you won’t lose it when you’re speeding to and from your favorite fishing destination.

Also, consider sun clothing that’s made specifically to reflect the sun’s rays away from you. As much as you might not want to wear long sleeves when it’s hot, long sleeves and pants really are the best way to protect your skin from the sun. Many of the outdoor clothing options on the market offer breathable fabric and vents to keep you cool and keep your skin safe. 

You also need a good pair of sunglasses. Your eyes are just as sensitive as your skin. You’ll find that, out on the water, the sun can be even brighter because of the water reflection. Choose sunglasses that protect against UV rays. 

A large water bottle is essential when you’re planning to be out on the boat. The sun leaches your body of water fast so it’s important to replenish fluids regularly. In fact, you could opt for a heavy-duty drink cooler and bring as many drinks and snacks as you’ll need. 

An umbrella is another great accessory to have on the boat. This is one you can leave on the boat all the time in case you need it in the future. It can bring you some much-needed shade or protection from the rain. 

Weigh Your Storage Options

Fishing boat stored on sandy beach.
Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.

Of course, the best way to store your boat is inside, either in a spare garage stall or a shed. This takes all the issues of weather and the elements out of the equation. 

But if you must store your boat outside, consider building an open shed to cover it. The less sun it’s exposed to, the better it will look and the longer it will last. 

Also, you can opt for a boat cover. If your boat must sit outside, this is the best way to keep it safe from sun damage. It will also keep the rain out, an added bonus.

Apply Sunscreen to Your Boat!

Just like your skin, your boat needs the right protectant. There are lots of options on the market for waxes and protectant solutions that protect it against the sun. Choose an option that will work well for the material your boat is made of. 

You can also find fabric protectants that you can spray on the carpets and seats of the boat to keep them from fading in the sun. Again, find something that’s meant for use on your type of boat fabrics. 

The key to applying protectant is that the boat and all its surfaces must be very clean before you start. This allows the protectant to soak into the surface of the boat and set into place. Wax protectants make your boat nice and shiny. They remove build-up that can make your paint job look foggy. 

Depending on how much you use your boat, you may need to reapply protectant a couple of times during the season. Check with the product manufacturer to get their suggestions. 

Are you an avid summer boater? If so, let us know in the comments some of your tips to beat the summer heat. And check out our Boating Section for all the tools and accessories you’ll need to keep your boat in tip-top shape!



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