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Serious Mistakes Made by Beginner Boaters

Boaters at anchor
Drew Dau- Unsplash

Here's How to Avoid Making a 'New Boater Boo-Boo'

Everyone may not agree with me on this, but from my experience I would say that the most serious mistakes new boaters make boil down to three categories. If you are thinking about buying a boat, this article will help make you a better boater. If you are an experienced boater, you can use this article to check that you have done everything correctly. Here are the top three categories of 'new boater boo boo's' that I see on the water.

#3- Bad Habits From The Get-Go

Too many boaters during their first few months at the helm apply incorrect driving procedures. It is important when becoming familiar with the operation of your boat to use driving methods that are recognized as the best way to handle each driving situation. Some of the most important driving techniques can be the ones that many new boaters fail to recognize. For example, driving a boat is very different from driving a car. A car operates within a well defined road system, where there are painted lines, signs, and clearly marked pathways. Boats operate on a much broader spectrum, where traffic and obstacles can be positioned in any direction. As a result, from the first day you drive a boat you must constantly scan, one segment at a time, in a full 360 degrees around your boat. This is why you must learn the best techniques for scanning the water.

Another example of following correct driving techniques applies to docking. Many boaters find docking a challenge. If you are one of them, chances are you did not learn the correct procedures back when you first started boating. Docking is not a “one size fits all” procedure, and a new boater is wise to take a professional lesson on docking to learn each of the five main steps necessary to always enjoying a smooth and accurate docking experience. As with most boating procedures, docking is easy once you apply the correct process.

If you drive a boat using less than optimum driving techniques, you are training your mind and reflexes to drive incorrectly. This not only creates ongoing problems for the beginner, but makes it more difficult to relearn procedures using the best methods. As a new boater, you should know and practice the best handling techniques as early as possible. Don't forget, you can always go around and try again.

#2- Basics Only

The second biggest mistake made by new boaters is to learn only the basic skills and fake the rest. Most pleasure boats today have simple controls that allow a driver to get from Point A to Point B without really knowing much about what he is actually doing. The lazy logic is, “Who needs to know everything about my new boat, when I only need a throttle and steering wheel to take it for a ride?”

As with most sports, the more you know about boating the more you will enjoy it and the safer you will be. Learn everything from how to stop your boat quickly and how to find optimum trim, to making full use of your GPS and how to handle very rough water. You won’t learn it all in one lesson, or even one season, but set yourself some goals and continue to add to your understanding of boat handling. When you start to feel like an expert, you will be on the right path to learning a great deal more.

#1- The Test Drive of Truth

The worst mistake of all that a new boater can make can actually happen before they buy it. This happens to buyers who don’t test a boat before buying. Boats have a lot in common with shoes. There are different shoes for different purposes. Each shoe type has different success levels at delivering what is expected. They come in different sizes for different people and of course they come in a wide range of prices. Every boat looks great on a showroom floor, but each one performs differently on the water. Can you believe that 84% of boaters will buy their boat without actually driving it in various water conditions? Like shoes, all boats are not created equal and if your expectations are one thing and your new boat cannot deliver, you will soon come to dislike boating. Try it before you buy it. When you believe you know the boat you want, take the time to learn as much as you can about it. Start with the specifications provided and then read what people say about it. You can ask seasoned boaters what they can share about the boat, but keep in mind that they may not have all the answers.

Even if you order a boat months before delivery, you can include in your purchase agreement that the sale ‘close’ is subject to your approval after taking a test ride. It doesn’t have to be the same boat, but it needs to be the same make, length, and model. Boats are a big investment, so walk away from any deal where a pre-purchase test ride in choppy water is not permitted.

Bonus Considerations

Here is another pre-purchase test you should consider. Don’t buy any new or used boat where you rely on any of the following reasons to justify the purchase:

- I bought it from a friend - It fits my boathouse

- It was a great price

- I really don’t don’t need to go as fast as other boats

- My neighbor has one

- I can get used to the purple and green gel coat color

- The dealer is throwing in a GPS at no extra cost.

- The salesman told me it is one of a kind

- I know there is no dealer close by, but I have a local guy who can look after it

When shopping for a boat it is exciting to picture yourself driving it around and having fun. This is a trap. Try picturing yourself driving around and hating every minute. This should bring you back to reality and then you can take the time to follow all of the smart purchase steps. You can read all sorts of detailed instructions on how to buy a boat in publications and online industry articles, but if you avoid the above three categories, you are almost guaranteed to have happy times with your new boat. #tips #quicktips

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