Boating 101: Tips for First Time Boat Owners

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Your Guide to Becoming the Best Boater that You Can Be

If you have just purchased or rented your first boat, assuming the role of captain for the first time can seem overwhelming. But to become a boater, you have to start somewhere. We think you’ll find that most recreational boaters are eager to help, if and when it’s needed. Before your first trip, take some time to review these tips, as well as the local regulations in your area. For example, do you have the necessary paperwork and licensees to operate the vessel legally? Do you have the required emergency gear on board? Do you have an emergency plan in place? Be certain of the answers to these questions before your first water adventure. The ocean doesn’t give second chances, so being prepared is your next best option.

Learn from a boat captain

 Before you commit to purchasing a boat secure a boat rental with a captain. You can spend the afternoon trading tips and learning about your local waterways. It’s easy to reserve a boat rental with a captain via the Boatsetter website.

Limit the crowd on your first few trips

 It’s an exciting time when you have just bought or rented a boat and everybody is lining up to spend the day on the water. But be careful! Your first few trips should only include you and a few other people. You should only start inviting friends aboard when you are fully confident in towing, boating, docking, and unloading.

Practice parking the trailer in an empty parking lot

After you get the boat in the water, you still have to park the trailer. On a busy day, it can be frustrating to have to back up the trailer repeatedly. A little practice will go a long way.

Agree on some basic hand signals

When the boat ramp is busy, or if you’re screaming over loud noises, sometimes you can’t hear your partner shouting “a little to the left!” A review of basic hand signals can alleviate the need for yelling and confusion. There’s no right or wrong, just use what works for you and your boating partner.


Nothing ruins an afternoon on the water quicker than a sunburn. If you bring extra layers, you can always take them off if needed. Better safe than sorry when it comes to the care of your skin. Check out this helpful list of things to pack when boating.

Know when the tides change

Understanding when the tides are about to change can be helpful when planning a trip on the open water, as well as helping you determine when to return to the boat ramp.

Invest in a waterproof bag

 It’s handy to keep a cell phone with you on your boating adventure because it can help you find your way back to the boat ramp or serve as an emergency communication device. The importance of a waterproof bag cannot be understated because it protects your identification, money, and electronics from water damage.

Never sit at the front of the boat

If the boat is going fast or will be going fast soon, don’t sit – or allow children to sit – at the front of the boat. When the boat begins to bounce along the waves, it may seem fun at first, but you can seriously injure yourself if you fall and land awkwardly.

Boat rentals are a great learning experience

To help gain confidence when navigating a vessel, reserve a local boat rental. The experience can help gauge your comfort level and overall interest in purchasing a boat. Boatsetter makes renting a boat in your neighborhood easy and painless.  Check out some tips for first-time boat renters. You have the option of adding a captain and you can change or cancel your reservation up to 24 hours in advance – giving you full control of your boat rental experience.

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