8 Tips for Novice Boat Owners
To the newcomers of boat ownership, we welcome you to the incredible world of boating, and the unforgettable fun and adventure that comes with it!
The longer you own a boat, the more you’re going to discover a whole new world to explore. However, before you do, there are certain things you should know to help you get the most out of your first boat from the moment you take ownership of it. Here are 8 tips to help newbies break into the boating lifestyle.
New Boat Owner Tip #1: Get Boat Insurance
Just like a car, home or any other major investment, your boat needs insurance protection. Adding liability insurance protects you and your boat if anything goes wrong, including mishaps such as fuel spills and boating accidents in general. Talk to a marine insurance specialist to explore available coverage options. Get as much insurance coverage as you can afford, as novice boaters are more likely to make mistakes than experienced skippers.
New Boat Owner Tip #2: Plan Ahead for Boat Storage
Planning ahead for where to store your boat when you’re not using it is just as important knowing how, when and where to ride it. If you plan on keeping your boat on a trailer at home, do you have enough room for it? And do the local laws allow it? Do you know how much it costs per month to store it at a marina or with a dry stack valet company? If you live in a region that experiences snowy weather, will your winter storage option be suitable for such conditions? Plan your boat’s storage ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises after you’ve purchased it.
New Boat Owner Tip #3: Get Safety Gear and Equipment
The law requires you to carry safety gear and equipment onboard, including size-appropriate life jackets or personal flotation devices for every person onboard. Make sure your boat is equipped with the appropriate PFDs required by the USCG, plus a standard toolset, a first aid kit, some basic spare parts (fuses, fuel filters, etc.) and essential equipment such as dock lines and fenders.
New Boat Owner Tip #4: Practice Trailering Your Boat
Before you can really enjoy riding your boat, you obviously have to get it to the water first, and that usually means trailering it to a boat ramp. Successful trailering includes knowing if your vehicle is rated to tow a boat, how to secure your boat to the trailer, and how to secure the trailer to your vehicle. Don’t forget learning how to actually drive while towing a trailered boat. Make sure you’re prepared for the task of towing your boat on your own, and get advice from your experienced boater friends if you have them.
New Boat Owner Tip #5: Learn How to Launch and Retrieve Your Boat
Screwing up on the boat ramp will get you laughed and/or shouted at, but worse than the humiliation is the fact that it can damage your boat. The boat ramp is often a busy place, and if you’re the guy slowing things down for everyone else, they’ll be none too pleased. Read up on boat ramp etiquette so you know how things are supposed to go, then pick a quiet time (usually mid-week and mid-day) to practice launching and retrieving your boat.
New Boat Owner Tip #6: Learn Basic DIY Boat Maintenance
Boats and outboard motors need regular service and maintenance, including simple stuff like cleaning the boat, flushing the outboard and changing the oil. Many boaters prefer servicing their own boats to avoid constantly paying the local boatyard or mechanic to do it for them. Learning how to service your own boat and its outboard(s) not only saves you money, but it’s also more convenient, as you can do the work on your own time while developing a stronger bond with and understanding of your watercraft.
New Boat Owner Tip #7: Always Plan Ahead for Trips
A bit of planning before every boat trip makes time on your boat more enjoyable, and could make the difference between success or failure if something unexpected happens. Check the weather ahead of your trip, and postpone it if the forecast is bad. Notify someone not going on your boat trip about your departure time, destination(s), and estimated arrival and return times so somebody on land can alert the Coast Guard in case of an emergency.
Being on the water can disorient you, so draw up a basic route map with landmarks that can help you establish your position. Speaking of disorientation, it’s easy to get disoriented on a boat from dehydration, so bring plenty of water and avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, especially in hot weather. Also, bring plenty of light snacks to keep energy and concentration levels up, as opposed to heavy foods that can cause seasickness.
Pack for varying weather conditions, as temperatures can dramatically change out on the water. Have sunscreen and light clothing to protect your skin, as well as warm clothing such as fleeces and rain jackets to keep you warm. Put important items such as keys, wallets and phones into a zip-lock bag or something similar to protect them from getting wet, and get a cellphone case that floats and is 100% waterproof.
New Boat Owner Tip #8: Operate Your Boat Responsibly
It should go without saying, but surprisingly enough it needs to be said: drive your boat responsibly to avoid trouble! Be courteous and considerate to other boaters, and obey water markers and boating laws. Finally, never try to push your boat beyond its (or your) capabilities.
Following these boating tips will not only become second nature over time, but will also ensure you and everyone onboard actually enjoy going out on your new boat. Once again, welcome to the world of boating, and keep Boats.net in mind when its time to buy boat parts and accessories.