If you’re a first time boat owner, we hope you’ve checked out our Boat Ownership Basics guide to learn about the ins and outs of everything from boat maintenance to insuring your boat. While the guide will cover just about all the bases when it comes to must-have knowledge for beginner boaters, there are three specific things that we wish everyone knew when they got their first boat. So, before you hit the water make sure to study up on:
• How to Choose the Best Life Jackets for You and Your Family
• When to Decide Not to Go Boating
• Basic but Critical Maintenance Chores Performed After Every Trip
How to Choose the Best Life Jackets for You and Your Family
Safety is obviously job number one aboard any boat, and our Boating Safety Guide will give you the scoop on a number of topics. When it comes to life jackets, however, comfort can be just as important as functionality. Life jackets are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, so you can rest assured that any approved life jacket will do its job. But not all of them are equally comfortable. This is important because the wearer will often simply take off their life jacket when it feels uncomfortable. With kids you may be able to enforce wearing the device with some parental firmness, but in this case, the child isn’t likely to enjoy their time aboard nearly as much as they otherwise might—and naturally, you want your kids to have fun and love your boat just as much as you do.
The solution is simply to make sure you get the right type of life jacket, and that it’s properly fitted. Our Life Jackets, Vests, & PFDs page will fill you in on all the details. But when it comes to the family members and friends who will be aboard regularly, we have another suggestion to add: Take them shopping with you when you purchase your set of life jackets, so they can try some on. Everyone’s body and build is different, and some people may find one brand or model more or less comfortable than another. Especially when it comes to the kids, ensure that every day on the water is a good one with a life jacket that they find comfy. Bonus Tip: check out our Boat Essentials page to see what other accessories you may want to pick up when you go shopping for those life jackets.
When to Decide Not to Go Boating
It may seem a bit counter intuitive, but knowing when to call a trip off can be just as important as getting out on the water on any given day. We all live in a hectic world and scheduling time off can be difficult, so no one wants to lose an opportunity to go out on their boat. But Mother Nature can be finicky, and when you’re on a boat you’re often exposed to her whims. Some people will be just fine with boating in a light rain, but others may find it miserable. Rough, windy conditions can make being on a boat very uncomfortable and can make some people seasick. And remember that there’s often a big temperature difference on and off the water. It could be a comfortable 70 degrees on land, but feel like a chilly 60 degrees once you shove off the dock. Every boater should check the weather forecast prior to each and every trip, and carefully consider whether heading out is a good idea or not. When the weather is iffy you may be able to monitor it while out on your boat (you can listen to weather on your VHF radio, or see 10 Best Marine Apps for Boaters to find out how your cell phone will come in handy), and make the best call when it’s time to go in. And check out Weather Tips for Boaters to learn more about how different conditions can affect your day on the water.
Basic But Critical Maintenance Chores Performed After Every Trip
Maintenance is a big part of boat ownership, and like any large and relatively complex machine that has an engine, will make a huge difference in how well your boat does or does not hold up through the years. This is a big topic and taking a close look at our Boat Maintenance section will help you wrap your head around the most important tasks. That said, we want to make sure you always remember two absolutely vital items when it comes to boat maintenance. First off, wash and wax your boat regularly to keep it clean and protected from UV damage. This alone will keep it looking great for years to come and prevent dirt and grime from causing friction in moving parts or clogging drains and hoses. Secondly, make sure you carefully read your owner’s manuals and maintenance schedules for the boat, its major components, and systems, and follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures to a tee. Not only will this help keep everything in good working order, in some cases it may be necessary to comply with the warranty.
So, are you ready to get out there and have a great time one the water? We’re guessing the answer is a resounding “yes.” And armed with these three things that all new boat owners need to know, we’re also guessing that you’ll be having fun on that boat for many, many years to come.