The Ultimate Guide to Owning a Boat

You have finally fulfilled one of your lifelong dreams and bought a beautiful new boat. Boating can be tremendous fun and enrich your lifestyle, but if you’re not responsible and don’t use common sense, your new hobby could end in disaster. Here is a detailed guide to help you get the most enjoyment from owning your new boat.

Safety

In keeping with the old saying “safety first,” it’s logical to start with this aspect of owning a boat. After all, there is no way to enjoy an expensive new hobby if it ends in tragedy. Just like the process of learning to drive a car, an aquatic vehicle has some rules of the road and safety guidelines that must be followed to protect yourself and other boaters.

Many states will require you to obtain a boating safety license and complete a safety course before you can legally operate a motor-powered vehicle on the water. It’s also wise to have your vehicle inspected for safety before you take it out on the water. These safety checks are usually provided at no cost by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Before you go out on the water, it’s important that you give your boat a safety inspection. Go through a checklist to make sure that your safety equipment is in working order, you’re sufficiently fueled up, and there are no dangerous oil or fuel spills. It’s also very important to check the weather so you aren’t caught out on the water during a dangerous storm or windy conditions with dangerous waves.

Basic maintenance

In order to prevent tragedies or expensive repair bills, perform some simple routine maintenance to keep your boat in good condition. Keep the boat free of excess dirt and debris, and make sure the oil levels are adequate. The wet conditions of a boat are conducive to mold and mildew buildup, so regular cleaning is important. Always give your boat a thorough check for signs of leaks.

If you’re boating on saltwater, you’ll need to flush the engine after a day out on the ocean. Just like a car, a boat will need periodic service performed by professionals to keep it working in good condition and to prevent damage to parts. Your boat will need occasional oil changes, lubrication and treatment for the underside of the vessel.

Boat insurance

Like any motorized vehicle, your boat should be insured so you can pay damages in the case of an accident. It’s best to get boat insurance that is separate from your home insurance. Make sure you understand all the types of coverage that your insurance policy provides so you don’t have any surprises when it comes time to file a claim. If you only operate your boat a few months out of the year, you could qualify for a lay-up discount on your insurance. If you own a yacht, which is defined as a boat over 27 feet in length, you will need yacht insurance in order to be properly covered.

Operating your boat responsibly

When you’re out on the water, there are some things to keep in mind to prevent mishaps. You need to avoid waterways that your boat is not designed for and observe safety guidelines such as having life vests for all passengers. Use discretion about your speed on the water in relation to the presence of other boaters in your vicinity. At least one person on board should be watching the water to prevent collisions with boats or other objects in the water. If you’re going on an extended trip, make sure to plan and chart your journey so you won’t get lost or end up in a dangerous place.

Boat decor

Owning and riding a boat usually requires function to take priority over form, but if you spend a lot of time on your boat, you can make it a cozy and attractive space. One of the ways to provide greater comfort is to buy a boat with enough storage to prevent clutter.

When you add decorative items into the boat’s interior, you should remain mindful of the fact that it’s a moving vehicle and objects can easily fall or become projectiles that could cause injury. Some safe and attractive ways to spruce up the interior include some colorful pillows and bedspreads. Floor mats and framed wall art can also make a space feel more lived in.

Fishing

One of the perks of owning a boat is to explore the exciting hobby of fishing aboard your new vessel. When it comes to seafood, nothing beats a fresh catch. As you begin looking for fishing gear, you’ll realize there are seemingly endless options out there. If you visit a local shop and ask for some advice, you’ll find that it’s not hard to get what you need. You might want to invest in a rod and reel setup rather than gear that requires pulling fish in by hand.

Before you embark on your first fishing trip, pick out a good lure, and try out several varieties to see what works best. Line length is also important. You’ll want a line that can trail a few boat lengths behind you if you’re traveling with the line in the water.

When a fish gets caught on your line, getting it on board can be tricky. This part needs to be done quickly and safely. Equipment such as a gaff or a net can make this task easier. A large oceanic fish can be dangerous flopping around on the deck, so you’ll need to kill it. Some people use blunt force with an object such as a winch handle to get this done. Once your catch is safely aboard, you can concentrate on cleaning and cooking a fresh dinner.

Fun activities

There are many fun activities that you can enjoy as a boat owner. Boat hobbyists enjoy combining popular sports and games with boating. Some examples are “golfishing,” poker runs, Frisbee, basketball and even jousting. Golfishing combines fishing and golf. In this sport, you count the number of casts you take to catch a fish, then golf a ball into an inner tube in the water. Combine both scores for your overall score.

If your boat moves fast enough to create large waves, you could enjoy some wakeboarding. This sport involves surfing the waves that form behind your boat. Another popular activity combines poker with boat racing. As you reach designated points along the course, you’ll receive a card. Whoever has the best hand at the end of the event wins.

There are many aspects of boat ownership that you can explore to get maximum enjoyment and keep you and your family safe. With these tips and ideas, you’re well on your way to many new aquatic adventures.

Image credit: Boat via Denis Linine / Shutterstock.com

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