Tips for those new to boating
A few brief tips for those who are new to the world of boating.
Life and leisure on the water can be an enormously rewarding experience. Whether you love the serenity of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the placid and hypnotizing sound of the water gently lapping the side of the boat, or you prefer the screaming engine propelling you over the surface of the water with the wind tugging at your hair, boating can provide it all. For those new to boating, a few tips are in order.
First, safety should be paramount to all things. It should go without saying that all of the safety equipment and flotation devices should be onboard and accessible. It is also a good idea to take a local boating course covering safety as a topic to better prepare you for time spent on the water. If you are not sure of what safety and flotation gear needs to present on your boat, check with the nearest Coast Guard or local waterborne law enforcement unit to prevent both mishaps and the issuance of citations for lacking the proper equipment.
Assuming the boat you intend to use will be your own and recently acquired, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of its features. Become intimate with its capabilities and limitations and spend time with the owners manual, if available. As mentioned earlier, make sure that all of the requisite items are onboard and accessible and if not, obtain them before getting underway.
Whether you will be boating on the open ocean or inland lakes and waterways, obtain local charts and look for shoal, or shallow areas that could inhibit your passage and damage your propellers, leaving you stranded. Familiarize yourself with the chart legend and make sure you understand the symbols used to warn boaters of potential trouble. Look for underwater obstructions jutting up from the bottom. It is always wise to know what the color and shape of the channel buoys mean as they are provided for your safety and the safety of your fellow mariners. Buoys indicate which side of the channel you should be traveling on, where the shoal water is, and indicates the location of other channels.
As with most things, alcohol and boating do not mix, particularly if you are entrusted with the lives of others riding in your boat. Alcohol impairs judgment, which should be entirely unencumbered when the potential hazards present when boating could mean disaster. There is ample opportunity to enjoy adult beverages once onshore when the boat is secured to the dock or pier.
Communication equipment is an important element in safe boating and primary and secondary means of speaking to the shore and fellow boaters should be present. Marine-band radios are the most commonly used while on the water, but cellular phones are a handy and reliable back-up.
A complete and amply supplied first aid kit should be secured to the bulkhead of your boat in case unforeseen accidents occur.
Enjoy your boating experience and share the wonders of the water with others. Be prepared before getting underway and keep safety in the forefront of your mind.