Boating can be a great hobby, and every year thousands of brand new boaters hit the water. If you want to join them, you need to do it safely, and that means following some common sense safety tips and learning the rules of the aquatic road.
Whether you enjoy fishing or just hanging out with your friends, there are things you can do to get your new boating adventure off to the best possible start. Here are some simple safety tips for the first time boater:
Learn from a more experienced boater. You can learn a lot just by going out on your friends’ boats, from the right way to tie up the craft to how to behave on the water. Take advantage of the knowledge your friends possess, and ask them to teach you the ropes.
Seek out calm waters to practice in. There will be time to play in rough water later, but for now it is best to stick to the calmer areas. Check out Coast Guard maps, ask your friends and look for gentle streams, calm lakes and less challenging parts of rivers and other local waterways.
Check, and double-check, your boating equipment. No matter what size boat you own, you rely on your equipment to keep you safe on the water. Never leave the dock without double-checking your equipment, and replace faulty items at once.
Start small. Even if you crave a big boat, it is best to start small. Beginning boaters will have an easier time navigating small craft, so look for the smallest boat that meets your needs. You can always sell your starter boat later and put the funds toward a larger watercraft.
Read the local weather reports. Weather reports take on a new significance when you are out on your boat, so invest in a quality weather radio, download boating weather apps to your smartphone and keep an eye to the sky.
Respect others on the water. From other boaters to kayakers, canoe operators, swimmers and fishermen, you will be sharing the water with lots of other people. Always respect others when you are out on the water; if you show respect, other outdoor enthusiasts are more likely to respect you.
Boating is a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors, and the world looks a little bit better from the deck of a quality watercraft. If this is your first time on the water, following the common sense safety tips listed above can make that initial experience a great one.