Assuming the role of captain for the first time can, no doubt, be overwhelming. But in order to become a boater you have to start somewhere. The boating community is friendly and 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 this list, as well as the local regulations in your area. Do you 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 should the worst happen? Be certain of the answers to these questions before your first water adventure. The ocean doesn’t give second chances so being prepared is key – better safe than sorry, right?
Learn from a boat captain. Before you commit to purchasing a boat secure a boat rental in your community 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. We know. It’s exciting. You just bought a boat and your children, neighbors and co-workers are itching to spend the afternoon testing the waters. Refrain. Refrain. Refrain. Your first few trips should include you and a limited number of people. Only when you are confident towing, boating, docking and unloading should you begin inviting third parties.
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 backing up the trailer more than once. 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 children and multiple truck engines, sometimes you can’t hear your partner shouting “a little to the right!” A review of basic hand signals can alleviate the need for yelling and confusion. There’s no right or wrong – use what works for you and your boating partner.
Overdress. 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 (can you tell we’re speaking from experience?) Check out our list of things to pack when boating.
Know when the tides change. Understanding when the tides change can be helpful when planning a trip in or out of an inlet, as well as determining when to return to the boat ramp.
Invest in a waterproof bag. It’s handy to have your cell phone with you on your boating adventure. In a pinch 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 when on plane. 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 it may seem fun, but you can seriously injure your back and spine if you land awkwardly, which you are likely to do.
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, a boat sharing company, makes renting a boat in your neighborhood easy and painless. You have the option of adding a captain and can change or cancel your reservation up to 24 hours in advance – giving you full control of your boat rental experience.
Check out our tips for first time boat renters and click below to browse trending boat rentals.