How Do Noise and Vibration Affect You When Operating a Boat?

Most boat enthusiasts prioritize the boating experience and overlook the effects of noise and vibration from their vessels.

We’ve heard some brushing off concerns asking, “How do noise and vibration affect you when operating a boat?”

Now these two sound pollutants can cause lasting impacts on your body.

Read through our detailed write-up to learn the effects of noise and vibration when operating a boat. 

Number 8 will shock you.

Related: Who is responsible for performing the pre-departure check of a recreational boat?

How Do Noise and Vibration Affect You When Operating a Boat?

You’ll likely harm your body when spending lots of time in a rattling vessel. The following are the implications of noise and vibrations you’ll suffer from if you continue staying in a noisy boat:

  1. Insomnia

Long-term exposure to heavy vibrations causes insomnia. Loud noise disrupts your sleeping pattern.

Failure to sleep consequently leads to headaches and reduced concentration. The inability to sleep well also causes depression, irritability, and anxiety.

  1. Distraction/Scattered Attention

Too much noise from a rattling boat disrupts your attention. The noise will hinder you from hearing alarms and warnings should there be any danger.

A report issued by the U.S coast Guard Recreational Statistics shows that in 2019 alone there were approximately 4168 boat accidents caused by inattentive riding.

An attentive mind will be keen to detect any obstacle, unfavorable weather conditions, or even unsafe boating conditions.

  1. Hearing Impairment/Hearing Loss

Extreme boat engines expose boaters to possible deafness.

Any sound above 90db is considered noise.

It is therefore a requirement by most states that all sounds should be kept between 86db and 90db. A violation of this particular law will cost your boating license.

  1. Strained Communication

The amount of noise a boat engine produces varies with its speed.

A slow-moving boat produces less noise hence the people on board can communicate with ease,

When the boat speeds, the noise is likely to exceed 90 dB therefore the passengers will have to shout while communicating.

Any sound above 90db will hinder communication and the boaters will need to move closer to communicate effectively.

It becomes a dangerous situation because even the captain cannot alert his passengers effectively in case of an emergency.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this is how people tend to communicate at different noise levels:

Above 80 dB people tend to speak loudly.

Between 85-90 dB people will have to shout to be heard.

Above 85dB people are forced to move closer to each other to communicate effectively.

  1. Impaired Judgment

Spending more than 4hours in a noisy boat could potentially affect your concentration.

This will consequently lead you to poor decisions.

  1. Bone and Muscle Damage

Long rides in a vibrating boat will result in tissue inflammation and pain.

Excessive noise from a rattling boat endangers your bones and muscles too.

  1. Loss of Body Balance

Any sound above 90dB damages your inner ear.

The inner ear is responsible for keeping your body balanced and if it’s damaged you lose your body balance.

 You are likely to drown your boat if you lose your body balance and still continue operating the boat.

  1. Slows Down Your Reaction      

Loud noise causes cloud judgment and general body tiredness which slows down your reception of triggers and your response.

The slow reaction affects how you respond to boat emergencies and this can make you drown.

Other health complications you could suffer as a result of long exposure to loud boat vibrations include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Stress

What are the Common Causes of Noise in a Boat and Their Possible Solutions?

Unusual loud noise in your vessel could signal an underlying mechanical problem. Most vibrations in a boat result from the engine, water, or wind.

The following are the major causes of noise in boats:


A running engine produces some reasonable sound but a faulty one makes an unbearable noise.

There are several remedies for a noisy engine:

You can modify your inboard engine with soundproof foam and reduce the noise by 35dB.

Employing a sound-dampening or anti-vibration material to counter the vibration in an outboard engine is also recommended.

A boater can also reduce 50% of the noise emitted by replacing a 2-stroke engine with a 4-stroke engine.


The intensity of the wind directly influences the speed of the boat. The speed of the boat also determines how much the engine vibrates therefore, strong winds make the vessel move faster hence increasing vibrations


Vibration in a boat results from the resistance between the water and the vessel’s hull.

Deep and wavy waters create more resistance hence more vibration while calm waters cause less resistance hence less noise.

Other causes of noise in a boat include:

Cutlass bearing

A worn-out cutlass bearing produces a disturbing squealing sound.

The nasty sound comes as a result of two metals coming into contact. The sound depicts worn-out rubber.

The only remedy for a worn-out cutlass bearing is to replace it with a new one.

Shaft line

 A shaft line normally runs in a linear motion from the engine toward the propeller.

A bent or misaligned shaft line will make your vessel produce a nasty screeching sound. A worn-out shaft line too can cause loud noise.

Regular alignment check-ups for your vessel will maintain the shaft line at its desired position for normal functioning.

You also need to shop around and replace a worn-out shaft line.


Propellers tend to break down since they interact more with the water.

A propeller could be broken by foreign objects in the water and they can produce horrible noise.

It is therefore imperative to check your propellers regularly and fix them if distorted. You can repair a broken propeller or replace it with a brand-new one.

How To Keep Safe From Noise When You Are on Your Boat

Boating is a thrilling exercise but the noise and vibration from a faulty vessel can make you regret the adventure:

Here are the tips that will help you deal with the horrible noise encounter:

  • Make sure your vessel is in a proper working condition free from any mechanical breakdown.
  • Place a cushion on the captain’s seat to counter the vibrations.
  • Install sound insulation systems in your boat or sound absorbers. They absorb shockwaves that cause discomfort while on the boat.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s advice on operating the vessel.
  • Seat away from the engine because it must vibrate as long as the vessel is in motion. It is advisable to sit on the edge of your vessel.
  • Observe the engine temperature and regulate it to the recommended level. Low temperatures will cause the engine to keep stopping and make a lot of noise when forcing it to start.
  • You should operate on a 4-hour or shorter shift if you are the captain. Enough rest boosts your concentration and leaves your muscles more relaxed.
  • Invest in decibel checkers to ensure the vibration you expose yourself to does not exceed 90 dB.
  • Operate your vessel at a reasonable speed. High speed causes the engine to vibrate more causing more discomfort.
  • Take your boat to your favorite mechanic for regular service. Let them fix broken propeller blades and replace the worn-out cutlass bearing.
  • A nice boating experience is during the off-peak hours. During the peak hours, there are many vessels vibrating hence intensifying the noise.
  • Replace the broken parts of your boat with new ones.
  • Buy personal protective equipment such as earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears from loud sounds.
  • Only operate the vessel with a sober mind otherwise mishandling of the boat’s part causes mechanical breakdown and consequently causes unnecessary noise and vibrations.

The Bottom Line

A faulty boat produces horrible noise that could potentially damage your body.

This noise mostly comes from the mechanical breakdown of some of the parts of your vessel and should never be ignored.

You should mitigate the health hazards by following the above-recommended safety measures.

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