You bought a boat. Happy day!!  What happens next?  There is plenty of preparation that needs to occur to make your boating life remarkable, but most importantly, safety.  To enjoy your new hobby, you must determine how you are going to trailer your boat.  There are legal considerations, towing vehicle requirements, launching knowledge and storage considerations.  Learn more about your boat.  What kind of fuel does it need?  Learn the rules of the water.  Boat owners need to learn about leaving a pier, docking, mooring anchoring, towing a skier, heavy weather, and much more.  There are highway signs to become educated with –waterway marks, light characteristics, chart symbols, lights on bridges, electronic aids to navigation, and navigation publications.  There are rules boaters must follow.  What is the general responsibility rule?  What are the correct guidelines for narrow channels, traffic separation schemes, “stand-on or give way” rules, bend signals, vessel lights, vessels at anchor, diving operations, distress signals, drawbridge signals, and penalties.  Learn what powers your boat – types of engines, selecting a propeller, induction systems, ignition systems, cooling systems, gasoline considerations, batteries, and general troubleshooting.  Learning about your boat and how it operates will enhance the enjoyment of family outings.  But, most importantly, keep everyone safe.

Educate yourself and family about navigation.  Learn about piloting tools, maps, charts, compass, position on the earth’s surface, locating a point on the chart, measuring distance, course plotting, speed-time-distance plotting.  The navigation of your vessel is critical to enjoyable, worry-free, and safe family outings.

While it is nice to have this shiny new vessel, it becomes vital to learn how to tie your boat up when docking. If not, you will be summoning the Coast Guard sooner than anticipated. Boat owners must invest in the proper ropes and line, learn care of ropes, making up lines, knots, and bends, and securing lines.  Knowledge about the weather and boating is paramount for safety on the water.  Become educated about wind and boating, wind and waves, understanding the weather, heat and non-frontal weather.  Your boat’s radio is vital to safety.  There are licenses to be obtained.  What are the functions of your radio?  What channels are important for water safety and navigation?  How will your radio be used in a distress situation?  How will you train your crew to be radio fluent?

Misfortune occurs in seconds. You have the rest of your life to be grateful that you know what to do because you are prepared. Know your boat because that knowledge may one day save your life and the lives of your fellow crewmembers. Enjoy your new hobby!! Educating yourself, family, and friends only enhances the joy delivered to you on the water.

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Suddenly In Command.” USCGAUX: Public Boating Courses. Web. 06 June 2012. <>.