Finally, you got a boat for the first time, and you don’t know what to do after that? There are so many things to learn after buying a boat. Here are some of the things you should learn after buying a boat.
- Learn how to use safety equipment.
- Check the weather before starting the trip.
- Learn boat maintenance tips.
- Have a float plan.
- Learn boating safety tips.
- Be careful if you are driving in shallow waters.
- Always have a plan while going for boating.
- Maintain proper distance between the boats.
- Maintain a proper lookout while boating.
- Take a boating safety course.
- Learn how to get back on a boat after falling out.
- Know your outboard motor gas consumption.
- Learn how to boat in rough water or bad weather.
- Flush the outboard motor after every use.
- Learn what to do if you stuck in the middle of the sea or lake.
- Learn how to winterize a boat.
These are some of the essential tips every new boater needs to learn. Most of them are safety tips and what to do in different situations.
1. Learn how to use safety equipment
This is one of the essential things to learn after buying a boat for the first time. You need to keep all the safety equipment in the boat. Sometimes coast guards also will check whether you have all the safety equipment in the boat or not.
Some of the safety equipment are listed below in the table. It is good to keep all of them in your boat.
|Life jacket||Must for a boat||for each person|
|Life ring||Must for a boat||for each person|
|Must for a boat||it depends(but, nice to have for each person)|
|Whistles or horns||Must for a boat||1+|
|Ladder||Nice to have a rope ladder|
(if you don’t have any)
|VHF radio||Optional, nice to have|
(no need license in the USA)
|1 (boat under 65 feet (optional))|
|EPIRB||Optional (you can use if you are boating in seas or oceans)|
(no need license)
|Chartplotter||Optional (you can use if you|
are boating in seas or oceans)
|Optional (you can use if you|
are boating in seas or oceans)
|Satellite phone or|
|Optional (you can use if you|
are boating in seas or oceans)
|Thermal imaging camera||for boating at night||1|
|Torchlight||Nice to have||1+|
|Binoculars||Nice to have||1|
|Flares||Must for every boat|
under 16 feet
|Bucket||Nice to have||1|
|Paddles or Oras||Nice to have if you have a|
|Documentation||Must for a boat||All documents|
|Anchor ropes||Must for a boat||it depends|
|Lights at night||Must for a boat||it depends|
(2 at the bow
1 mast light
1 stern light)
|Depth finder||Nice to have||1|
|First aid kit||Must for a boat||it depends(1+)|
|Tool kit||Nice to have||1|
|Fire extinguisher||Must for a boat||boat under 26 feet|
boat b/w 26-40 feet
(two B1 or one B2)
boat b/w 40-65 feet
(three B1 or two B2)
|Extra gas||Nice to have||it depends|
|Knife||Nice to have||it depends(1+)|
|Bilge pump||Nice to have||1|
|Duct tape||Nice to have||1|
|Anchor||Must for a boat||it depends(1+)|
|Maps||Nice to have||it depends|
Not only having them, but you also need to learn how to use them in an emergency. Especially, it is important to know how to operate the VHF radio, EPIRB, etc. Check my article on Safety equipment for a boat: 31 things you need (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned their uses in the emergency.
2. Check the weather before starting the trip
This is the essential step to do while going for boating. Check the weather before starting the trip. The Coast Guard will broadcast all the weather changes 24/7 in channel 16 marine VHF radio. So, look at the news before starting the trip.
Otherwise, follow some apps or websites like the windy app or AccuWeather website or some other websites for the broadcasting news. Sometimes, the weather might be good before starting the trip. But, after starting the trip, the weather might change.
Weather can change very quickly, so you need to prepared for everything. You should have a plan for coming back to the shore quickly if the weather changes. The whole ride depends on this step. If the weather is good, start the trip. Otherwise, plan it on another day.
Not only checking the weather before starting the trip, check the weather constantly while boating as well. Generally, you will get to know about hurricanes in the week prior. But, the small thunderstorms or any others will occur within minutes. So, turn on to channel 16 in VHF radio, and listen to them regularly while boating in seas.
3. Learn boat maintenance tips
Boat maintenance another important thing to learn. Some of them are needed to be done after every trip, and others are not needed to be done after every trip. The basic boat maintenance tips are listed below, and how often you need to do them also mentioned below.
- Boat cleaning – Do it regularly after boating.
- Flushing the outboard motor with water – After every use.
- Propeller checking – After every use.
- Changing gear oil – Every season or for 100 hours.
- Bolts and connections – Check regularly.
- Checking Spark plugs – Every season or 3 to 4 months.
- Battery check – Every season(and charge it every month).
- Bilge pump checking – Check it before starting the ride(for safety purpose check it every time before starting the ride) and clean the bilge area regularly.
- Bottom Hull – Check every time after taking the boat out from the water.
- Boat anodes – If those anodes corrode 50% or more, then you need to replace them.
Check my article on 11 Simple maintenance tips for a boat: DIY (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned how to do all those steps in detail.
Boat maintenance is essential, and also trailer maintenance is necessary (if you have one). Check my article on Boat trailer maintenance for storage (opens in a new tab) for DIY tips.
4. Have a float plan
A float plan is a good practice to have. Sometimes, this will help you a lot. Tell your full float plan(exactly where you are going, how long it will take to come back home, and how many people are going) to one of your friends or neighbors. Just in case if you didn’t reach your home in time, they will help you.
If you didn’t show up early, your family members or friends will inform to coast guards about your float plan and everything. Then the coast guards will make the move quickly, and they will find you quickly.
While boating, if you change the plan or if you modified the plan, don’t forget to inform your family members or friends. If you think that you might show up late, even then inform your family members or neighbors. It is a good practice to have a float plan and informing others.
5. Learn boating safety tips
Learning safety tips is an essential thing. Boating safety is essential for everyone in the boat. Everyone should protect themselves and others from dangers while boating. Now we will see all the safety tips in detail.
- Always check the weather before starting the ride. The whole trip depends on this step.
- A life jacket is a must for every person on the boat. You need to wear a proper-sized life jacket, and it should fit as well.
- Knowing the boating rules is essential if you are driving the boat. Without knowing them, you might cause problems for you and other boaters as well.
- Without the safety equipment, you can’t travel peacefully in the water. Safety equipment is a must for a boat one day it might save your life.
- Teach all the crew members in the boat how to use the safety equipment as well.
- Don’t overload the boat If the weight capacity of the boat exceeded the maximum limit, then the boat might tilt or tips over, and everyone will fall in the water.
- Bring enough food and water
- Apply the sunscreen, don’t forget about ears, hands, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck. Protect lips with an SPF 30 lip balm.
These are the essential things you need to do while boating, to protect yourself while boating, and not to cause any problems to others as well. Boating is a fun sport, don’t hesitate to follow the rules while boating.
Check my article on Safety tips for boating: A detailed guide (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned about every safety tip and how to do that as well.
6. Be careful if you are driving in shallow waters
Sometimes, driving a boat in shallow water will be dangerous. You need to be extra careful while driving in shallow waters. If you are not careful while driving in shallow waters, then you might hit the sandbar, and your lower part of the outboard motor might get cracks.
Use depth finder to constantly monitor the depth while boating in shallow water. This device is very useful if you are boating in shallow water or muddy water or at night, where you can’t see the depth with your eyes. You can prevent the hull and outboard motor damage if you have one of these on your boat.
Don’t overload the boat in shallow waters. If you overload the boat in shallow waters, it increases the draft (distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull or keel). If the draft increases, then there is a high chance of hitting the sandbar, causing any accidents.
Use hydraulic jack plates in shallow waters (if you always boat in shallow waters, then only buy them. Otherwise, don’t install this expensive device on your boat). With the help of this, we can elevate the outboard motor up and down. So, you can prevent the outboard motor damage.
Check my article on 13 Tips for boating in shallow waters (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned all the basic tips needed to be followed in shallow waters to be safe.
7. Always have a plan while going for boating
This is not the same as having a float plan. Properly plan every trip like where you are going and what all equipment is needed for that. Not just simply taking the boat out and going to a lake or sea.
- What to do if you the weather changes while boating
- What to do if you run out of gas while boating
- How to control the boat in rough waters
You need to have some plan in your mind to get through those conditions. Plan everything properly, like knowing how long the trip will take and keeping all the requirements (food or any other supplements) properly.
8. Maintain proper distance between the boats
This is an essential thing to do while boating to prevent any boat collisions. Maintain at least 30 feet or more distance between your boat and other boats to prevent any collision.
While boating, if any big wave comes, then the boat will shake, and the boat might get out of the path. If there are any other boaters near your boat, then you might hit them. So, be careful and maintain a safe distance between other boaters.
9. Maintain a proper lookout while boating
According to coast guard of united states, 620 accidents happened due to operator inattention in the year of 2017
While boating checking the surroundings is crucial. You need to see the surroundings and then make the move accordingly. You need to see whether there are any obstacles in front of you or any boat is coming closer to you or not and like that.
The movement you get into the boat, you need to check the surroundings and remember other boat locations(if any) and watch their movement, whether they are coming closer to you or not, and checking the depth constantly is essential too.
If you are boating in fog or at night, then observing the surroundings is a must because you can’t see anything properly. Sometimes, based on the sound signal given by the big ships, you need to make the move, and sometimes based on the light signals given by other boats, you need to make the move.
Sometimes, you might save others by observing the surroundings. So, observe the surroundings regularly to avoid any problems while boating and know the basic boating rules to communicate with other boaters properly.
Chem my article on Driving a boat safely: A complete guide (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned all the tips for operating the boat safely.
10. Take a boating safety course
This will be a great option. If you take a boating safety course, they will explain everything about the boat. They will teach you how to use all the safety equipment and rules you need to follow while boating. There are paid courses and free courses as well.
BoatUS Foundation Online Course is a free course that can be completed online by participating in six lessons and completing the final exam. Choose when and where to take your course. Take it on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.
Check this Boatus website on the courses offering by them click here (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In this, they listed all the available courses.
11. Learn how to get back on a boat after falling out
This is an essential step, and you need to know what to do after falling off the boat. Especially, if you are alone in the boat, then it will be a bit difficult. If they are crew members in the boat, they will help by throwing a throwable flotation device.
You can get back into the boat after falling overboard by tying a small rope ladder on any side of the boat(port or starboard side), before starting the boat ride. If you don’t have rope ladder, then tie a rope in U-shape on any side of the boat. So, you can put your leg on the rope for support.
By following the above steps, you can climb inside a boat. These steps will work if you are not stuck in any currents or huge winds. Among all the incidents that happened, most of them have happened while people are simply playing on the boat, or sometimes they forget to pull the ladder.
Check my article on Getting back on a boat: after falling out (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned what to do if you fell overboard.
12. Know your outboard motor gas consumption
It is good to know the gas consumption of your outboard motor. Then you will conclude how long you can drive the boat. Not only knowing the gas consumption of the outboard motor, take extra gas with you on the boat if you are going for any long trips.
By knowing the gas consumption, you can prevent running out of gas in the middle of the trip. Take extra gas while going for boating. Always know the oil consumption and plan the trip accordingly.
gas capacity in your boat = 20 liters consumption per hour = 2 liters
Then you will get 10 hours of the boat ride. Now calculate how long it will take to reach there if it takes 3 hours, then for coming back it will take 3 hours.
Overall it will take 6 hours to for going and coming back. And you have extra gas(sufficient for 4 hours) for any emergency. SO, plan like this and go for boating.
13. Learn how to boat in rough water or bad weather
Sometimes, while you are boating weather might change and you might end up in choppy or rough waters. So, have a plan in advance for handling the boat in rough water or bad weather. Always check the weather before starting the trip.
Don’t panic. If you panic while boating, especially in rough waters, you might cause many problems by making bad decisions. So, don’t panic while boating in rough waters.
Slow down. Don’t go too fast in rough water. That doesn’t mean that you need to go too slowly. Drive with moderate speed while boating in rough waters.
Wear a life jacket. Wear a life jacket that fits properly to your body. And try to choose a life jacket that has a small whistle on it and a small light on it as well (if possible).
Tie the kill switch to hand or a life jacket. This step is essential if you are boating in rough waters. Especially in rough waters, there is a high probability of falling off the boat.
Check my article on Safety tips for boating in rough waters (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). In that article, I mentioned everything you need to do and safety precautions to take while boating in rough water
14. Flush the outboard motor after every use
I already mentioned this step in boat maintenance. Flushing the outboard motor with fresh water is an essential thing you need to do after using the boat. Now we will see why do we need to flush the water inside the outboard motor every time after boating.
While you are boating, the water will go from the bottom part of the motor and come out from telltale(for cooling the motor). When water goes inside, it will take all the dirt or any small particles, which might get stuck inside the motor. To clean that, we will flush the outboard motor with water.
It is a good practice to flush the outboard motor every time after using the boat. Regardless of the water(maybe freshwater or saltwater), flush the outboard motor with fresh water after every use.
Flushing the water inside the outboard motor
- Generally, there will be holes at the bottom of the outboard motor, just above the propeller(and these holes may vary from the motor to motor). You need to keep the air muffs over there and connect it to the water pipe and start pumping the water.
- The water will go inside the motor, and it will clean the inner walls with fresh water. After starting the process, leave it for 10 min. So, it will clean the inner walls properly. While pumping the water, don’t forget to start the outboard motor.
- It is essential to flush the outboard motor, with freshwater, after every use. If you are using the boat in saltwater, then flush the outboard motor after every use. If you are using your boat in freshwater, then flush the outboard motor after using your boat for two or three times.
15. Learn what to do if you stuck in the middle of the sea or lake
You might not be expecting this but, it can happen to you due to an engine failure or running out of gas. Then if you stuck in the middle of the sea, it might be a problem. If there are people around you, then you can signal others for help, and they will help you out.
Every time you might not find some other boaters for help. What if you stuck in the middle of the sea or lake, and there is no one around you.
- First, anchor your boat and also use sea anchors(aka drift anchor or drift sock or para-anchor or boat brake) if you have one. These sea anchors will give extra support to your boat if your boat is drifting in the sea.
- After anchoring the boat, put on your life jackets, and contact the coast guards using a cell phone or VHF radio. If you are using VHF radio, make sure that it is DSC active and tune on to channel 16 for communication.
- In the meantime, check whether anyone is there near you or not. If you find anyone near you, try to signal then using flairs or something else.
- Don’t come out of the boat, stay on the boat, and just relax or play with your friends or kids. So that you won’t panic much.
- Don’t unnecessarily use the flair, and eat less food, preserve it for some time, because you stuck on a boat no one knows what is going to happen. Sometimes, coast guards might take hours to reach your location.
- Give plenty of water to your fellow friends, and you also drink water.
16. Learn how to winterize a boat
Winterizing a boat is essential during the winter season. If you didn’t winterize the boat, then the outboard motor may get damaged because if there is any water left in the motor, it will corrode. If you leave gas in the tank, it will evaporate and form water, eventually, it will corrode.
To run the engine smoothly after 3 or 4 months, you need to winterize the motor. These are the basic steps for winterizing the boat. You can winterize the boat, in less than 30 min. The only thing is you should be careful enough while doing that.
- Clean the boat after removing it out from the water.
- Stabilize the gas.
- Flush the outboard with fresh water.
- Use fogging oil (in carburetor and cylinder).
- Change lower unit gear oil.
- Remove the batteries.
- Cover up the boat and use anti-pest.
- Do regular checks during winter.
Check my article on Winterizing a boat: A complete guide, step by step (don’t worry, it will open in new tab). It is a step by step guide for winterizing your boat.
Boating is a fun sport, and you need to be careful while boating. Wear an appropriate life jacket, keep all the safety equipment in the boat, and then start your trip. Don’t forget to check the weather before starting the trip, and check the weather constantly while boating as well.