How to Plan a Boat Trip
There’s a saying among boaters that underpins every trip they plan: You can start or end where you want, and you can leave or arrive when you want, but you can’t always do both.
Watch the weather
When planning a boat trip, it’s important to understand that you and your guests will be in Mother Nature’s house. It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading out on the boat for a day, a week, or a month: Respect for the weather comes first.
If you have your heart set on arriving at, say, a particular waterfront restaurant, then you have chosen the “where.” The “when” will depend on factors such as wind, current, and any rain in the forecast, all of which can delay you by minutes, hours, or longer.
Similarly, if you’re on a long-distance cruise and want to end in Florida on a certain day, you have chosen the “when.” But cruising conditions en route, you may end up having to make that landfall farther north in a place like Jacksonville, as opposed to farther south in the Venice of America, or as others call it Fort Lauderdale. The “where” becomes more of a variable.
The next step, after understanding the general parameters of where you want to go on your boat trip, is taking a good, long look at a chart. You can lay eyes on a paper or an electronic chart, but either way, you want to familiarize yourself with where you’re going.
Make a note of any bridges you’ll have to contend with and note whether they open on a schedule or on demand. Check out the tide tables to see if there are easier or harder times of day to follow your chosen route.
Make any reservations you need to make at marinas along the way. In general, have a solid understanding of where you’re going before you set off to get there.
After that, the next step when planning a boat trip is ensuring the boat is in good working order. Luckily boats on peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms like Boatsetter undergo a vetting process to ensure safety and the best experience possible.
Still, it can’t hurt to be cautious, check all the equipment in the engine room, make sure power systems are fully charged, and triple-check gear such as personal flotation devices and first-aid kits. The last thing you want is to get underway on your boat trip and be unprepared in case of a problem.
What to pack
Next, you’ll want to make sure you have all the essentials you need for your boat trip— Is there enough water for everyone? Enough ice to keep it cold in the cooler? How about snacks? Towels? Hats? Sunscreen? These things may sound small and easy to “remember,” but are often forgotten. Feel free to use the checklist we’ve created when packing for your boat trip:
- Sunscreen (at least 30 SPF)
- Drinking water (Keep in mind pets if you plan on bringing them aboard.)
- Extra change of clothes
Avoid forgetting or overpacking: Check the boat listing for Add-ons like a cooler/ice chest, ice, snorkeling gear, and more!
Last but not least, get into the right mindset for your boat trip. Yes, it’s a bit of work to ensure everything is ready to go, but boating is supposed to be fun when it comes down to it. Start your boat trip with a smile, and get out there and enjoy the journey.
Boatsetter is a unique boat-sharing platform that gives everyone— whether you own a boat or you’re just renting — the chance to experience life on the water. You can list a boat, book a boat, or make money as a captain.
Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.