10 Tips for First Time Boat Owners
Owning a boat for the first time is exciting! It also comes with a lot of responsibility. Make sure you are ready before you take your boat out on the water. A new boater checklist is a good idea, not only for the first time but for every time you take your boat out. It can be very helpful in ensuring you don’t forget anything important.
Life Jackets (AKA Personal Floatation Devices, or PFDs)
This is perhaps the most important item that should be on your checklist. Make sure you have enough life jackets for all on board (plus a few extras for good measure). You can never tell when an emergency may arise, and you want to be prepared.
You should have at least two different kinds of communication devices in case of an emergency. You should have a VHF hand-held radio, a cell phone, a distress beacon, and a few flares. All are designed to alert someone if you experience any problems while out on your boat.
Always Check the Weather Forecast Before you make the final decision to head out onto the water for the day, check the weather forecast. Weather can change rapidly. The Coast Guard forecasts the weather on a channel 24/7.
Leave the Alcohol at Home
Drinking and boating don’t mix; they can be a deadly combination. You need your wits about you at all times to stay safe and to keep your passengers safe. Safety first.
Take a Safe Boating Education Course
Education is always good and educating yourself about owning a boat for the first time is a smart idea.
You have insurance for your car, your home … You also need insurance for your boat. Get it before you take it out onto the water. Anything can happen, and you want to be as prepared as possible.
Trailering Your Boat Properly is a Learned Skill
Practice getting your boat on and off the trailer before you are at the water’s edge and actively trying to get the job done.
Practice Launching and Loading Your Boat From the Trailer
Think of your fellow boaters and don’t hog all the ramp and time. Practice until you have an efficient method.
Make a checklist of all items on the boat that need regular maintenance. Again, it’s just like a car – maintaining it well can help it last longer and run better.
Always Make Sure You Tell Someone Your Plans
This is important and needs to be someone who isn’t going to be on the boat. Be sure to tell them where you are going and what time you expect to be back. In case you don’t show up, and for some reason, you can’t communicate, someone will know to come looking for you.
Owning a boat for the first time can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with responsibilities. Remember what they are and create a new boater checklist to make sure you don’t forget something that’s really important.