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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Going On A Boat Ride

Going on a boat ride
Going on a boat ride - the AnnaBelle

Bless the world wide web. Honestly, when it comes to learning anything, I don't know what I'd do without it.  Was there even humanity before this blessed invention??

There are some great resources online for learning how to boat, once you have a boat of your own.  However, it occurred to me the other day that most boaters get introduced to the pastime through being lucky enough to be brought out on the water by a friend.  To me, that means there's a whole crop of would-be boaters that could benefit from a little bit of knowledge before having that first fateful boat ride.

So, I sharpened my pencil (fingertips?) and went to work thinking about the things you should know before going out on the boat of a friend or family member:

  • First, prepare for being on the water in warm weather.  That means sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses at a minimum.  Bring a towel, and a change of clothes to be safe.
  • Although it may be warm outside now, nights get cold on the water.  Bring a sweatshirt and long pants, just in case.
  • Bug-spray is a good idea too, lest you fall victim to this unfortunate circumstance.
  • Appropriate footwear is a must.  Flip-flops are hard to avoid; if you go this route, ensure they fit well and that they are non-skid.  Any footwear with black soles is a big no-no.  White fiberglass takes time and energy to clean, and the captain will appreciate you keeping them that way.  Boat shoes (Sebago, Sperry's) are specifically designed for time on the water, and may be a good investment.
  • At least study the picture on this article and get to know a few terms of the boat.  Particularly, bow, stern, fore and aft, port, starboard, anchor, helm, cockpit, swim platform.
  • Be prepared to listen and learn.  You might be assigned an important task, like line handling, or even moving around to balance the boat.  If you're on the boat, you're part of the crew - that means you're going to need to help out without delay and without attitude.
  • Know where you're going, how long you're going for, and when you'll be returning.  In a disaster situation, you may end up being the only person able to relay that information.
  • Ask about the radio, and observe its use.  The radio is usually the first defense against disaster.
  • Be respectful of the boat, its contents, and its electronics.  Boating items are expensive and sometimes very difficult to replace.  Treat everything with care; if you don't know how to use something, ask.  
  • Keep the boat as clean as you found it.  Keep your eating areas tidy, and keep your personal items grouped together and out of the way.  Tripping hazards are plentiful on a boat...do your part to avoid creating one yourself.
  • Take extra precaution when boarding a boat from a dock, swimming around the boat, and otherwise moving about.  Use hand holds wherever possible.  A great day on the water will be ruined quickly by an injured person.  You don't want to be the one who ruins the party!
  • By all means ask questions, but don't interfere with the captain's movements, observations, and orders.  Don't be a backseat captain...you'll never be invited back again.
  • Pack very light - don't bring a suitcase.  Space on a boat is at a premium.  Collapsible duffel bags are best.
  • Try to spend most of your time sitting in one place.  Newbies on boats tend to wander around, creating a hazard and getting in the way.
  • Offer to bring food and beverages aboard, and ask about what kinds (and sizes!) to bring. 
  • Bring a charged, working cell phone. 
  • Offer to pay for gas - your offer will get refused most of the time, but it goes a long way.
  • Be prepared to have a lot of fun, and to eventually lose a lot of money when you realize how fun boating is!
Have I missed anything?  Share your thoughts - what do you tell guests aboard your boat before casting off?
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