8 Good Boating Habits

Driving A Boat Safely

When you’re learning the ropes of boating, it helps to develop good habits to keep you safe and ensure maximum enjoyment on the water. The more you learn, the more likely you’ll find yourself wanting to develop new and better habits on the water. We’re always looking for better ways to make boating enjoyable and take the work out of the hobby. Read on for our best advice on the most useful boating habits that you can adopt.

Prepare and Plan for Everything

If you’ve done your due diligence, you should have everything that you need on board your boat. This includes things like a first aid kit, sunscreen, and even a fire extinguisher, to name a few. If you’re going to enjoy any time on the water, you must know that you are prepared for any emergency that could occur. From having readily available emergency contact information to having someone else on board that can take over in the event you can no longer drive, it’s crucial to have the right supplies and a plan in place for anything that might go wrong.

Do Periodic Check-Ups

Use the checklist that you made to get your boat set up with all of the essential items: your safety equipment, personal care items, first aid kids, ropes and other supplies, and so forth. Go through this checklist every so often and make sure that you still have everything on board and that it is in good repair. You don’t need to do this every time you go boating, by any means. Once or twice a season should be good. If you do notice something that needs to be restocked or replaced in the meantime, replace it for your peace of mind.

Always Have a Sharp Knife and Plenty of Rope

While there are any number of tools that will help you in boating, these are two that you cannot live without. Whether you find yourself needing to haul in an overboard passenger or throw a longer line to shore, having extra rope is always going to come in handy. So is a high-quality knife that’s capable of cutting those ropes, among other things. This should be a strong knife designed for multi-function utility use, and it should always be kept in a sheath and in a safe place.

Just Add Water

We’re not talking about the water that you’re about to go boating on—this one is about making sure that you always have plenty of drinking water or potable water onboard. The sun and heat can cause dehydration quickly, and if something goes wrong, you don’t want to be away from shore for too long without some form of fresh hydration. Make sure that you stock up on bottled water or jugs of water and always get more than you think you’ll need. This is an easy and inexpensive habit to get into.

Motion Sickness Pills

There’s always someone who is going to get a little queasy onboard a boat. Even if you think you’ll never encounter that person, it takes minutes and a few bucks to grab some motion sickness pills and keep them on board just in case. Someday, someone will be grateful. Make sure that you check the expiration date every eight months or so, just so that you can replace them if they do expire before they’re used.

Practice, Practice, Practice

When it comes to boating, nothing is more valuable than practice. From charting and keeping course to the old school skill of dead reckoning, you can learn a lot of valuable tools and skills if you take the time to do so. Don’t just buy a boat and hit the water. Learn how to manage your craft, practice using your radar before you need it, and read up on tips for manual charting and course setting. Whether you have a small fishing craft or a bigger pleasure yacht, you need to know how to operate it and navigate the waters in any situation. That comes with time, but also with a focused effort on practicing your skills and learning as much as you can about driving and navigating your vessel.

Wake Responsibility

Every boater will tell you one of the biggest rules of boating is that your wake is your responsibility. Whether it causes damage to other boats, buoys, or docks, there are a lot of ways your wake can go wrong if you’re not paying attention. You should always slow down when you’re near other boats or in crowded waters and leave extra space for the wake to dissipate. No matter what the signs say (or don’t say), and no matter what you think is the case, the reality is that ultimately, you are responsible regardless of the circumstances.

Anticipate and Be Aware

One of the best skills that you can develop as a boater is the ability to be aware of your surroundings at all times and anticipate what might happen. This is a skill that comes with time and experience, but it’s one that will help increase your safety on the water and give you the peace of mind that every outing is safer. When you’re paying attention, you can be prepared for things like seasonal or weekend traffic increases, potential accidents or emergencies that are impending, and so much more. You’re maneuvering a large vessel in a whole new arena that has its own rules and risks. Always be on the lookout so that you can safely enjoy your time on the water.

The Bottom Line

When you’re new to boating, or even if you’re trying to become a more responsible and prepared boater, these tips are going to set you on the right course. You might also branch out from these and find different habits that you want to develop for your benefit. Learn the rules of the water and get as many tips as you can from seasoned boaters so that you can become a better captain of your craft and make the most of your excursions, no matter where you’re boating.

Written by: Valerie Mellema

Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to boats.com, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.