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Planning a Recreational Boating Trip: How To Prepare

Are you looking for the best adventure to unwind or spend some quality time? Perhaps you want to connect with nature and feed your passion. If so, a recreational boating trip is the way to go.

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned handler, every boat trip offers an out-of-world experience. You can relax, lower stress levels, rejuvenate your senses, and bond with loved ones to create eidetic memories. And don’t forget the breathtaking views as you watch the sun fading down on the beautiful blue waters.

Aha! So, you already in for a boat ride? But wait; for the ultimate experience in the waters, proper planning and preparation are invaluable. Well, you don’t want the voyage to turn out to be a horror movie after you forget to carry up-to-date nautical charts.

Careful planning before heading out can save you a lot of time, maximize fun and avoid unpleasant surprises. But what exactly are you supposed to plan for your trip? To get you started, here are some golden tips for a lifetime recreational boating trip.

Safety First

For a successful boating adventure, focus on safety. Regardless of how long you intend the trip to last or cruising destination, there are some items you must carry with you. It’s required by law to have the following items on the boat for your own safety.

• Working fire extinguisher

• Life jackets for all persons onboard

• Visual distress signals such as non-expired flares

• Working sound signal (whistle, air, horn, or horn)

• A stocked first aid kit

In addition to the required items by law, there are additional items you need to have onboard. These items are necessary irrespective of your destination or boat size.

• Required documentation (park pass, fishing license, operator license, or boating safety certificate)

• Bailing device

• Boat pole or hook

• Extra fenders and lines

• Anchor with adequate rode or chain

If you are planning a boating trip into the nearshore waters of the ocean, include:

• Tool kit

• Depth finder

• GPS plotter

• Compass

• VHF radio

Pick Your Destination

You already have a few ideas about the intended destination for your boating trip, don’t you? When picking a boating trip, keep in mind the weather can make or break your trip. You want to check for destinations that are boater-friendly during certain times of the year.

For an exquisite trip, plan your boating ride in the summer months. In summer, you are sure to enjoy sunny skies, calmer waters, and longer days for extended fun.

Chart Your Course

Regardless of your intended destination, it’s always wise to get the charts and study them. With a critical eye, check the chartered depths to avoid tunning aground, making the trip expensive. Don’t forget to plot your journey on a paper chart or chart plotter.

For easier charting of your trip course, you can also use navigation systems if the boat has them. Make sure the electronics and chart are up-to-date to reflect any navigational hazard on your route. If there is erosion, dredging, construction, or landslides on your course, it should alert the systems.

Study your course and note shipping lanes, currents, and shallow areas. Also, calculate the distance and time, mileage, and fuel needed.

Fueling Stops

When planning your fuels, check on the typical mileage of the boat. How many miles can the boat go under average cruising speed and conditions on a full tank? Now, calculate the distance the boat would cover with 70 percent of the fuel tank.

Map out all the fuel stations on your course to ensure you don’t run out of fuel. When planning for your fuel needs and stops, don’t develop a tight budget. Allow for extra expenditure due to high winds, bad weather, or even unplanned side trips.

Check Boat Maintenance

Confirm the vessel is in mint condition for a smooth boating trip before setting out to the waters. Especially if planning a multi-day boat trip, don’t skip a boat maintenance check. Polish up your maintenance skills and conduct a tune-up prior to embarking on the voyage.

Some of the key elements to check on are fluids, bilges, and batteries. Suppose the levels are either too high or too low; troubleshoot on the dock. Also, don’t forget to inspect terminals and wiring, fittings and clamps, steering cables, and fittings.

The lines and anchor should also be in good shape. If you got an extra anchor, don’t leave it behind. If everything is in proper condition, test-drive the vessel.

Brief Everyone on Board

While it might appear like overkill, remind your family or guests that a great trip is a safe one. As the captain, everyone should understand your key role is to ensure their well-being and safety while out on the waters.

You must conduct a housekeeping safety briefing with the onboard guests. Familiarize them with;

• Putting on a lifejacket

• Anchoring and docking procedures

• Position and functioning of fire extinguishers

• Position of first aid kit

• Sanitation and garbage disposal

• Safety rules

Find Mooring Fields

Spending a night on a better is more fulfilling than RV camping. After picking your destination, book a dock slip or identify a mooring field convenient for your trip.

If your vessel is a dinghy or tender, considering tying it up to a mooring buoy can be cost-effective. However, keep in mind they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, when anchoring, understand tidal and current changes in the area to avoid unpleasant surprises.

If you are spending your night in the waters, draft a backup plan for spending the night.

Have a Float Plan

Basically, a float plan consists of an hourly schedule of your boat excursion. This will include a list of crucial information and details about the watercraft and guests. This includes boat type, electronics, safety equipment, crew, destination list, and passenger information.

Also, don’t forget to send your float plan to everyone expecting you during the journey. This may be marinas, ports, accommodation, docking sites, and more. Also, you can send the float plan to your trusted inner circle and inform them about the trip.

If not sure how to draft one, check for a float plan template provided by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Check on Docking Availability

Regardless of your intended destination, docking availability is a key factor to check on. If you are a beginner in boating trips, this might not appear on your priority list and might seem trivial. However, don’t ignore it; the consequences are dire.

Failure to check on dock availability can ruin the vacation and cripple your boating adventure. When it comes to docking, call to confirm fuel docks and marina on your course are open on your travel date. Also, check whether there is any limitation of transient slips or if you need to reserve a spot in advance.

Weather Forecast

By being weather cautious during your boating trip, you might avoid accidents and save lives. You should avoid cruising in stormy weather at all costs. This is especially if you’ll be renting a boat without a crew and you are inexperienced.

If the sailing conditions are poor, you can always plan your excursion for another day, alive and happy. Also, in bad weather, you can’t enjoy the trip to the fullest. Well, no diving, swimming, water sports, fishing, or sunbathing.

Also, wildlife sightseeing is not possible with blurry and misty conditions caused by dull weather. Start weather forecasting some days before the set a date for sailing. If the weather is not ideal, cancel or reschedule the trip.

Check All Tanks

Like you do on road trips, fill the boat tanks before hitting the waters. Inspect the hose clamps and fuel line before filling up the gas tank. Also, don’t forget topping all the water tanks and fully emptying the waste tank.
Take a Sailing Class

Consider a beginner or refresher sailing class if you are taking a boat rider for the first time or it’s been a long time since your last boat trip. This is even more important if you’ll be renting a boat without a captain.

During a sailing class, you can learn many things about making your boating trip an indelible memory. You get to learn or remind yourself about boat mechanics, electronics, and navigation.

For most boat rental providers and boat clubs, novice boaters are required to take sailing classes before heading to the waters. Also, in some locations, a boat renter must have a boating license before operating a vessel. Thus, if renting a boat, you’ve got a couple of things to check out with the local authorities.

Notify Your Marina

If you have your own vessel for the boating trip, make arrangements with your marina before the scheduled cruise. Most dry storage marinas require you to notify them in advance before picking up the vessel. To avoid delays and inconvenience, call them a few days before and make arrangements about the collection.

Also, in case your boat is in a slip, contact them and inform them of your plans and the help you may need to head to the waters. If you will trailer your boat, make a booking for a boat ramp at your preferred location.

Provision Your Boat

You must plan for your meals depending on your voyage duration. Ensure there is adequate food for everyone on board during the entire excursion. You’ll need to organize food, sundries, beverages, and water supply for the boating trip.

When planning for the meals, bring extra just in case the trips take longer than expected. It’s recommendable you carry food that can last you for an extra day.

Don’t forget a cooler full of ice before getting started. Here, you get a place to preserve your beverages and food or even your catch; the fish.

Even though you plan to carry a few crates of beers, remember it can’t substitute water. Carry with your extra water, non-alcoholic drinks, and sports drink to stay hydrated.

If planning for a day of boating, consider stocking snacks and light brunches such as fruits and homemade sandwiches. However, you might want to include more if you plan the trip to last longer.

For longer trips, utilize every storage available. Plan the menu and determine the number of snacks and full meals to be served on board. However, you don’t have to stock everything up before sailing; you can always restock on fuel docks or marinas.

While sun-basking is a great activity during the boating trip, the sun out there is scorching. Don’t forget to bring along sunglasses, sunscreen, coverups, and hats for added protection against the sun.

Clothing for Different Weather

While you are prepared with beachwear to enjoy the hot sun in the waters, be ready for the weather change. Consider carrying extra clothing such as a raincoat or even a windbreaker. If the weatherman project the day will be chilly, carry warm clothes even if your trip is in the summer.

Extra clothing can help you stay comfortable if the weather surprises you. Also, if planning to get into the water, have a wetsuit or bikini. In addition, have a dry bag to store your camera, tablet, mobile, and other electronic devices to protect them from spills and splashes.

Also, you might need various sports equipment for added fun. Include dive gear, inflatable toys, fishing gear, floating mats, or water skis for numerous fun activities with your guests. You might also consider carrying some magazines, books, games, and music.

Plan for Your Recreational Boating Trip

A recreational boating trip is one of the ultimate getaways you can have with your family or friends. However, for a merriest and most memorable vacation, have a clear and detailed itinerary plan. Don’t start your cruise without proper planning.

With the above tips, planning for your next recreational boating trip becomes easy-peasy.

Are you looking for a boat club to join? Freedom Boat Club is the place. We are the world’s largest members-only boat club with years of experience to offer members with exquisite boating experience.

Contact us today to join us.

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