A Doctor’s Advice on Boat Safety: Sun Radiation and its Risks

The ‘sailing doctor’ Jean-Yves Chauve shares his Boat safety: Jean yves chauvreadvice for how to protect yourself from a boating sunburn. When planning for boat safety, it is important to keep this in mind because the strength of sunlight is greatly increased by the reflection of the water.


All you need to do is look at the faces of fishermen to realise how aggressive ultraviolet rays are. The most dangerous type of ray are UVC, which are usually filtered by the ozone layer.

Boat safety: avoid sunburn onboard
The sun-damaged skin of a fisherman’s face

UVA rays promote immediate tanning, while UVB rays cause the skin to thicken and the production of melanin. A sailing sunburn is a real burn and this type of injury increases the risk of skin cancer such as carcinomas and melanomas.

Boat safety: sunburn

It is therefore imperative for people who boat to protect themselves from sunburn.

Here are a few simple preventative measures to take:

  • Wear colored and loose clothing, especially lycra
  • Apply high-factor sun block – choose according to your skin type

People with fair skin are most at risk. As well as sunburn, exposure to infrared rays may cause the body temperature to rise and subsequently can result in heatstroke. Heatstroke is very serious and the consequences can be severe.

To avoid this:

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible
  • Wear a hat to cover your head
  • Moisturise your skin regularly to help eliminate heat
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Boat safety: Shade boat
Staying in the shade on a boat

Make sure you are prepared for whatever the weather holds – check the temperature forecast by downloading and overlaying free GRIB file data in your MaxSea TimeZero!

Read more of Dr. Chauve’s advice for boating safety in his three previous blog posts:


MaxSea TimeZero Free Weather Forecast Service

4 of the Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents

To stay safe onboard, it helps to know what the most common causes of boat accidents actually are. Here, we list 4 of them so you can make sure to avoid them happening to you!

4 of the Most Common Causes of Boat Accidents

1. Not being prepared for the weather

Poor visibility can make boating extremely difficult – and sometimes very dangerous. It is indispensable to check the marine weather forecast before leaving port. Be sure that you and your boat are able to handle the weather that is forecast. Boaters can face problems such as lightning or waterspouts if they do not keep informed of the weather.

Weather forecast in MaxSea TimeZero: an essential tool to avoid boat accidentsLuckily, this is easy to do in MaxSea TimeZero, which includes free and unlimited GRIB file weather forecast downloads. Simply use an Internet connection to download marine weather forecast for the area of your choice. This information can be overlaid on your chart and you can animate the weather to see how it will progress for the next 16 days.

2. Not keeping lookout

When boats experience collisions, the most common reason given is failing to keep a lookout. Objects in the sea and other boats can approach extremely quickly, and it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings.

An effective way to do this in MaxSea TimeZero is to to use the built-in AIS target overlay. You just need to connect an AIS-receiver to view the position, speed and direction of eacAIS/ARPA targets in MaxSea TimeZero: an essential feature to avoid boat accidentsh AIS target near your boat. You can easily set up a guard zone around your vessel. If a target enters this zone, an alarm will sound from your computer to warn you of a nearby boat. If you use radar onboard, even better. This will allow you to view ARPA targets on your MaxSea TimeZero chart. Display radar overlay on MaxSea TimeZero Explorer if you are using a natively-compatible radar.

3. Falling over board

This is an obvious one. It can easily happen and will usually just cause some embarrassment but nothing more. However, if you knock your head when falling, it is very dangerous. If the passenger loses consciousness, it is imperative that they are wearing a life jacket.

Always wear your life jack when on board! According to US Coast Guard statistics, around half of the drowning fatalities in boating involve boaters without life jackets.

Also, try to always wear the emergency engine cut-off switch lanyard so that you can cut the boat’s engine. This prevents the boat from riding away from you and also prevents you getting run over by the boat if it turns in hard circles.

Hopefully, you never need it, but just in case, remember that there is a MOB tool (Man Over Board) in MaxSea TimeZero to mark the exact position of the fall. Then use the Go-To tool to send your boat back to position.

4. Running Out of Gas

If you are in a calm area, this is usually not a huge problem. Just call a towing agency and they can bring you enough fuel to return to port. However, there are many areas with strong currents, or approaching waterfalls where you definitely don’t want to run out.

In this case, prevention is definitely better than cure. Use the 1/3 rule.  One third of your fuel going out, 1/3 coming home and 1/3 for what you didn’t expect. Next, always leave with a full tank and know your fuel consumption rate.

If you have a fuel gauge on board, connect it to MaxSea TimeZero so that you can constantly monitor your fuel rate and level.

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the causes of boat accidents. Boating can be dangerous, so please follow this advice and always think safety first!


Free Guide: 10-point safety checklist before sailing