“Walk Before Your Run”
Remember to walk before you run. Ease into the boating lifestyle with short trips that don’t take you too far. It’s best to not start off with a long-distance cruise or an overnight camping trek. Most people will be best off if they build up to bigger trips by starting with smaller, shorter ones that help build confidence.
You’ll figure out what sorts of provisions and gear are best to keep on hand, how to respond to different situations that may arise out on the water, and how long the crew enjoys different activities before a change of pace is due. As any parent can probably guess, this is particularly important if you have kids.
Check the Weather
Pick your weather carefully. Although we’d all like to go boating each and every time the schedule allows, it is an activity that Mother Nature has a big impact on. If a stiff breeze or thunderstorms are in the forecast, it’s best to keep your powder dry and wait for a better window of opportunity.
Life Jackets for Everyone!
Pick out life jackets that are comfortable, not because they’re the cheapest option available. Again, this is particularly important if you have kids. Ill-fitting or poorly designed life jackets will grow less and less comfortable as the day wears on, and there are so many types and choices these days that it’s quite easy to find a comfy life jacket for anyone of any size or age.
Slow Down for Waves
This may sound a bit simplistic, but the truth of the matter is that after hopping over a few small waves, most new boaters leave the throttle open for larger and larger ones—right up until they hit the one so big that it hurts. Remember that wave impacts are often worse for the passengers than they are for the captain, who is more likely to see the wave coming and be prepared for the impact. So if you’re running the boat and you feel a thump, other people aboard may have felt a slam or a bang.
The solution is quite simple: pull back on the throttle, before the boat hits big waves.
Learn How to Adjust the Trim
When you get your boat up and running, play with the trim a bit to find the boat’s “sweet spot.” Many inexperienced boaters forget all about trimming, because the boat seems to be running just fine. And it may well be running just fine. Play with the trim, however, and you’ll almost always discover that it could be running even better. Trimming will change how the hull meets the waves, can affect speed and maneuverability, and can make the ride a lot more (or less) comfortable.