10 things to make Boating Better

Posted on by David Graham

10 Boating Basics


Boating how hard can it be?  Buy a boat, put gas in and call a friend.  There are always friends willing to go boating with you.  Fun!


Well if you are not prepared the adventure can become adventurous.


1)  Train
Driving a boat is different than driving a car.  Because you’re 16 or 60, and are a “Good” driver doesn’t mean you will be safe boating.  There are navigation buoys (Red Right Return), direction of boat traffic on lakes,(it is supposed to be counter clockwise.)  Right of ways.  The 3 W’s -Wind, Waves, Wakes.  Swimmers, skiers, “Jet ski’s”, shallow spots, submerged or semi-submerged objects and the list goes on.  Highly recommend a Boater’s Safety course.  These are often offered in most areas and conducted by experienced watercraft operators.  One place to find such a course is to reach out to the nearest Coast Guard Auxiliary.  You should then try to learn about the waters you will be navigating.  Get a map and or talk with local experts.  Since many Boater Safety courses are classroom, find someone that will take you on the water and work on things like docking, anchoring. basic operations of your vessel and getting to plane.  Boat Clubs are very popular on larger bodies of water and may be a good place to learn while you are figuring out what boat type you are most interested in buying.


2) License and Registration
All operators of motorized boats must be licensed.  In most states you can get licensed to operate a boat prior to attaining the age of 16.  All states require motorized boats to be registered.  You should also consider insuring the vessel.  Speak to a knowledgeable insurance agent, preferably one that knows something about boats.


3)  Get to know you instruments and safety equipment
Gauges, radio, lights, radar, compass, fire or CO detectors, bilge pump, blowers to get rid of gas fumes, even the sound the engine makes when you start it, when you begin to go forward with the throttle, reverse.  Understanding the instruments and engine can save you money or possibly even save your life.  Make sure there are proper life jackets for all people on the boat and they are still in good working condition. Life jackets are important and we recommend boaters wear these while on a moving vessel.
 

4)  Check the skies
Checking the weather prior to boating can be critical.  Weather can change quickly and a sudden squall could prove to be very costly, especially to a newer navigator.  This also helps make sure you and your guests have things like sunscreen, maybe a jacket should the forecast call for cooler temps or breezes.
 

5) Be Prepared
Launching a boat can be stressful.  Do you have a checklist and check it prior to getting to the ramp. The ramp is not the ideal place to practice backing up. Set cones up in a parking lot or practice in a long drive way without trees, homes or cars in the area.  First on the list, verify the plug is in the boat.  Do you have a Float plan and do others know where you are planning to go?  Should there be a problem and others need to try to find you, a Float Plan helps get people moving in the right direction, quicker. 

 

6)  This one is so important we will mention it again-Life jackets
Life jackets save lives. Many states have laws requiring life jackets being worn, while the vessel in underway for some or all passengers.  All states require proper size and proper functioning life jackets for each person on the boat.  These must be accessible.  Certain size boats also require a throw-able life saving device. Life jackets work best when they fit properly and are worn by the person.
 

7)  First Aid Kit
Cuts while on the boat or while in the water may occur.  Slip and falls on a wet deck, sunburns and more.  Having a first aid kit to address some of these until you can return to shore... is very important.
 

8) Tools
There are often times where the vibrations of the boat may loosen something.  Things break, wires separate.  Having a screwdriver, a couple wrenches, duct tape and electrical tape can help you or another boater that didn’t have the tools with them.
 

9) Common Sense
Use common sense while boating.  Understand that not everyone is watching where they are going.  Since there typically aren't mirrors on your boat, be sure to check your blind spots, often. Be careful of the glare of the sun on the water and what may hide in that glare, polarized sunglasses work the best.  Operate at a safe speed.  Don’t drink and Drive, it is just as illegal on the water as it is on the road.  Is there someone else on the boat that can drive if something happens to you?  Stay away from large vessels.  These large vessels stir up things in the rivers and large bodies of water, and they do not maneuver as quickly.  They can create significant problems for smaller crafts.  Boats come with a kill switch tether, the driver should have this attached to their life jacket or other clothing item.
 

10)  Have Fun

Enjoy your time on the water
Charter Lakes