On our first night run on a local lake I found out too late that the marker at the entrance to the marina's canal was burned out. The marina can not be seen from the water night or day. It's hidden by trees and about 1000ft of swamp. In fact the entire lake has about 1000ft of swamp or marsh around it.
In our attempt the get back I almost ran aground three times. Ran into/over/through a floating grass island. My protable serach light went dead and it could not be plugged into a lighter socket and used.
I called on the VHF for help and got no reponse. We spotted a fast moving set of navigation lights and headed for it. Turned out they were heading where we needed to go.
Next weekend I bought a GPS. Not a chart type just a handheld that I could create navigation programs with. Now we have a course plotted and stored that will take us from the center of the lake and lead us back to the canal. And another to follow the perimiter of the lake without running aground.