There's little more enjoyable in life than some time spent out on the water. Even being around water for a few hours a day can do wonders for your mental health, which is why more and more Americans are taking on the mantle of boat owners.
If you've recently joined this far-reaching community, you may be curious about how best to prepare for your first few trips away from shore. There are a number of common boat mishaps and mistakes that you'll want to learn about and work to avoid before heading out on a serious journey.
What are some of the most common boat mistakes that might plague a newcomer? Read on and we'll walk you through a few you should try your very best to avoid.
What's one thing that doesn't require extensive knowledge of boating to be on top of? Remember to check the weather before you leave home and get out on the water.
Specifically, you'll want to turn your ear or eyes towards the marine weather in your area depending on where you'll be headed out to on your trip. Any kind of inclement weather can turn your very simple little outing into an extremely dangerous situation.
Getting hit by a storm, high winds, or rough and choppy waters can put you and your passengers in danger.
Why specifically marine weather? The conditions out on the water will likely be somewhat different from those on land. Wind conditions may be worse, for example, and you'll find must larger gusts away from shore than you would on it.
There are a number of marine weather applications you could download for your phone to have easy access whenever you want to. Getting in the habit of checking the weather every single time before you go out will end up saving you from lots of other potential issues you might face.
Before you leave the boat launch, always check!
One of the most common mistakes boaters make? Drinking while onboard. Yes, many people have the impression that a boat is just a floating party vessel, but it's important to reiterate that drinking while boating is just as illegal as drinking while driving.
That means if you're caught with a blood alcohol concentration of more than a certain amount, you could be facing some very serious penalties.
Of course, there is more leeway when it comes to drinking on a boat when it comes to your passengers. Just remember, if you are the operator of the boat and you'll be taking everyone back home later, you need to keep your drinking to a minimum.
Not only will this help to keep you out of trouble with the law, but it'll also keep your senses sharp should any kind of serious situation arise.
The last thing you want is to damage your vessel or put others in danger because you were not in the right state of mind to handle things as captain. Alcohol-related deaths are among the most common out on the water, so exercise caution.
How deep out into the water are you planning on heading? Before leaving home, you're going to want to ensure that you have enough anchor supply to be able to settle at your eventual destination.
Far too many novice boaters take far too little supply out on the water with them. This is how that will go: you'll reach what seems like the perfect spot, throw your anchor overboard, and quickly find yourself drifting away despite your best efforts.
This can be frustrating and will waste plenty of time and effort for yourself and your crew. You can re-anchor and re-anchor, but without enough rope supply, you'll keep finding yourself in the same situation. Not a fun time out on the water.
What's the best rule of thumb to remember? In order to always be sure that you'll be able to anchor as you should, you'll want to have five to seven times more rope than the depth of the water you're planning on anchoring in.
That means, for example, if you're planning on sitting out in water that's about twenty feet deep? You'll actually want to have as much as 100 to 150 feet of rope on board to anchor.
While this can be a large supply, it's the only way to ensure that you'll be all set as you get out on the water. After all, that's the last place you want to run into any serious surprises.
One place where novice boaters end up doing great damage to their brand new vessels? When trying to make it back to the dock. This is actually the moment where the greatest amount of risk can be faced by boaters, which is why boat ramp mishaps are so common.
Backing into a dock can be difficult for even an experienced boater.
Hit the dock at too high of a speed and you can really scratch or tear up the side of the vessel you're riding in on. Depending on the severity of the collision, it could cause permanent damage to either your boat or the dock itself. Neither outcomes are ideal.
You want to come into a dock at as slow of a speed as possible. The more room you can give yourself to maintain control, the better. Practice the maneuver of moving into a dock a few times out on the open water before trying to pull it off in the actual space.
Also, take the time to look at the area around the dock prior to moving out on the water. Visualize how you'll need to return so that you can plan out how to approach the task.
With a little forethought, practice, and a deliberate approach? You should make your landing back at the dock with relative ease. Just make sure you tie your boat up properly once there!
It sounds like the most obvious tip of all time, but we'll remind you regardless: you don't want to get out on the water without the gas you'll need to get around.
Preventing boat mishaps sometimes means re-stating the obvious because you'd be surprised at how the obvious is sometimes forgotten in the heat of the moment.
In fact, running out of gas while on the water happens to boaters all of the time. It's something you really need to look out for when first starting your boating adventures.
Why is this such a common boating mishap?
A lack of experience can play into things. For one, gas consumption on an aquatic vessel isn't quite as simple as gasoline in a car. The consumption rate of said gas can vary quite willy depending on the conditions out on the water and the amount of weight on board the boat.
You're also being kicked and moved around the water a lot, which means the fuel within your tank is getting sloshed around as well. That can actually make it more difficult to get an accurate fuel tank reading.
There's always the chance that there's less gas in the tank than you might believe. That's a chance that you should plan for, always.
The general rule of thumb for managing your gas should go something like this: one third for going out, one third for coming back in, and a final third as insurance should something go wrong.
Having some reserve gas can help protect you no matter what issue may arise.
Getting stuck out on the water without enough gas to get you home can be difficult and dangerous. It can also be expensive, forcing you to call into the authorities and have the Coast Guard come to rescue you.
Avoiding all this by being safe and proactive about your gas levels can go a long way to ensuring a safe ride.
It's hard to see beneath the surface of the water, but often you'll find yourself in water levels far more shallow than you might expect. If you aren't careful, you can run your boat aground and get stuck on these kinds of shallow banks.
Running aground is no fun, as you'll be stuck in one place with very little few options of how to get loose and on your way again.
What's the best way to avoid running aground? Ride as slow as possible when moving through shallow waters. If you can, turn off your motor entirely and float through these areas until you're back out in deeper waters.
This can be one of the most important boat safety tips for new operators, as many take it far too fast through shallow areas. Make sure to look into tide and currents in your area so you can see when areas might be more shallow.
Owning a boat isn't all about having fun and hitting the water! A lot of ownership has to do with proper maintenance, care, and work. A boat that is not well taken care of during the time it is off the water is not going to hold up well when out on the water.
You'll want to get quite familiar with the ins and outs of the mechanical needs of your vessel. Read your owner's manual. Watch videos from others who own the same vessel online. Get as familiar as possible so you know what to look out for as your take your boat out for ride after ride.
It can be a good idea early on to come up with some sort of maintenance schedule that can help to keep you on top of the needs of your vessel. Create this schedule and stick to it, don't let yourself get lazy or complacent.
The more you take care of your vessel, the longer it should last and the fewer issues you should run into when you're out on the water.
Another common mishap that can lead to a boat accident? Overloading your vessel past the weight limit it should really hold.
There's no excuse to not learn and memorize the weight capacity of your vehicle. This is a number that should be burned into your memory, as it is one of the main cornerstones of safety when it comes to your boat.
A miscalculation leading to an overload on your boat can be dangerous and create some serious issues on the water.
When you're loading passengers, gear, and other items onto your boat, try to keep a running tally of the weight you're bringing on. There are so many other things to think about before going on a trip, but this is not one that you're going to want to allow to skate by.
Maintaining proper loading of the boat will ensure the safety of all aboard. If you need to, keep a running list of materials on the boat that could be left behind should you find yourself in a situation with too much weight.
Boat ownership can bring a whole lot of joy into someone's life, but it comes with a huge amount of responsibility as well. Learning how to avoid common boat mishaps can help to ensure you'll have a smooth run as you start getting comfortable with your new vessel.
Looking for some community and aid when it comes to your new hobby? Contact us about our boat club membership today.