6 tips to make beginner boating a breeze
Are you the proud owner of a brand new boat, and can't wait to get out on the water? Here are six boating for beginners tips that can make your first excursions as a new boatie that much safer and more enjoyable.
1. Pack your boating kit.
This should include staples and safety equipment such as:
- Drinking water.
- A first-aid kit.
- Extra fuel.
- A map of where you will be boating.
- Lamps and batteries.
- Flare kits.
- Navigation lights.
- Bailing devices.
2. Don't block the boat ramp.
Remember there are more experienced boaties eager to get their vessels into the water.
- Practice reversing at home, so you'll be ready for the boat ramp.
- Plan your first few excursions for low traffic times.
- Don't get rattled and reverse your entire vehicle into the water or lake.
- Likewise, don't prematurely unhitch and risk your boat thumping onto the ramp.
3. Know how to moor your vessel properly.
Ask for instruction in mooring, or have an expert along who can help.
Don't let mooring mistakes ruin your first time out on the lake.
- Use the correct angle and speed on approach.
- Know your knots so you won't run into trouble casting off again.
- Have someone on the bow giving you input.
- When anchoring, account for currents and drift, especially if the water is crowded.
4. Pay attention to the weather.
Don't get caught out in a sudden squall. Check the weather the night before your excursion, the morning of, and before you cast off. Also:
- A mobile phone is only suggested as a back-up communications device. A 27MHz or, preferably, VHF marine radio should always be your primary form of communication when on the water, both to communication in case you need to call for help and to receive constant weather or safety updates.
- Have a plan to batten down hatches in case of sudden rain, and secure items in case of strong winds.
- Pack emergency weather gear as well. You don't want to be reduced to plastic bags with holes for the neck and arms in lieu of proper gear.
Important note: all vessels, if venturing more than two nautical miles offshore, must be equipped with a 406MHz digital Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). This must be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre.
5. Educate rookie passengers.
There are a lot of mistakes a new passenger can make around a boat, and some can cause damage. Remind passengers that:
- Everyone not involved with boat operation should be seated and out of the way when casting off and docking.
- Trim tabs aren't little step ladders for getting back on the boat after swimming.
- Stay clear of any outboard motor during water sports.
6. Lifejackets are not optional.
You should have a life jacket for each person aboard, and they should fit properly.
- Life jackets should be put on before you get anywhere near the water especially for children. They can fall off a dock as easily as a boat. Drowning can occur silently, in less than a minute, and often happens when an adult is nearby. Lifejackets save lives.
- An AS 1512 number on the lifejacket means that it meets specific criteria for performance and design, according to Australian Standards.
- For children, trying the lifejacket on is a must. If there is more than 10cm between the child's shoulders and the lifejacket when you lift by the jacket shoulders, it's too large to provide the right level of safety
- Small children should have lifejackets equipped with a head support collar to support their head when in the water, with a loop that can be used for grabbing and lifting a child from the water. The jacket should also have a crotch strap which is kept fastened.
- Test lifejackets by having a child wear one in a pool, and teach them to swim on their back with the jacket on.
By following these tips, you can enjoy your first excursions as a new boatie. For any other questions around boat equipment and service items, contact the experts at Hunts Marine today.