Be sure to avoid these common boating mistakes before heading out on your next trip.
There’s nothing quite like heading out for a day of fun and relaxation on the water. Whether you’re heading out for a casual cruise with good mates or a cheeky spot of fishing, when you’ve got a boating day you’re looking forward to, the last thing you want is to run into trouble that could’ve been avoided.
From small mishaps to situations that you’d be kicking yourself for not being prepared for, there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t end up making one of the most common boating mistakes on your next adventure.
So, before you head out on your next boating trip, have a read of five of the most common boating mistakes to avoid. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be focusing on heading out on your standard run-about; a tinny or fibreglass powerboat brought in by trailer. If that sounds good to you, then keep reading.
#1: Not packing sunscreen and sunglasses
It can always the little things that make a big difference. In the case of common boating mistakes, forgetting to pack sunscreen and sunglasses are right up there.
Sure, if you’ve got a Bimini it’ll offer some protection from above, however it’s important to remember the reflective nature of the water around you. It’ll bounce that sunlight back up on your face, and even if you’re wearing a rashie or long-sleeved shirt, your face will still cop a good amount of UV rays.
While it may be fun to get out there on the water, coming back in and feeling the sting of hot red sunburn on your face is never fun. Sunglasses also help to avoid getting sunburnt on your eyelids and damaging your eyes, so make sure to pack a pair or keep one in your boating kit ready to go so they’re never forgotten.
#2: Being overly reliant on technology
Technology has made a lot of aspects of adventuring and boating easier, but just because it’s helpful doesn’t mean you should disregard the basic elements of navigation. You never know when your electronics fail or stop working, or your phone dies and you lose the ability to use digital navigation tools to find your way around on the open water.
It’s worth making time to practice maybe once a year, pulling out your chart (map) and trying to navigate using that. There’s nothing worse than being caught in an emergency situation where your electronics don’t work and not being able to work out where you are.
Make sure you keep a paper chart and compass with you when boating so you know where you’re going in case your technology fails or runs flat. You never want to be caught out like this.
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#3: Not carrying an alternative form of propulsion
This mistake is especially common when boats are first pushed off into the water or being driven out of the marina. There is nothing more embarrassing when you’ve got your boat in the water and you drive out of the marina and your engine cuts out and you start floating towards other people’s boats and property.
A good alternative would be a plastic oar – you can use it as an emergency form of propulsion and you can use it to push yourself off another boat without having to put your body in harm’s way (i.e. using your arms).
Having an alternative can come in handy when launching your boat in shallow water where using your outboard motor could lead to damaging the prop. It’s much better to damage a plastic oar than a stainless steel prop!
#4: Forgetting the bung plug
It may be one of the most basic boating safety tips out there, but in the excitement and rush to get out on the water, putting the bung in can be a step that is forgotten. Your boat drain plug is obviously pretty important, and can make for quite the challenging situation when it hasn’t been put in correctly (if, at all).
It’s important to note here that a variety of boat models have more than one bung or drain plug, which as you can guess means it’s all the more important to check that all of them are in before setting out on the water. Even one loosely set bung can lead to a big inconvenience when you’re out on the water.
Something worth making a habit before you get your boat in the water, every single time, is to make sure that the bung is in. That small precheck can save you from a world of hurt.
#5: Not leaving enough line out for the anchor
Anchoring well can set you up for a good day on the water. But if you’re not leaving enough line out for the anchor, the slow drag and unsteadiness can lead to some less than ideal scenarios.
Not leaving enough line out for the anchor means you’ll end up dragging your anchor, which could lead to you running aground, getting lost/adrift or in the worst case scenario, hitting someone else’s boat. Definitely something you’ll want to avoid if you’re looking for a casual, cruisy day on the water.
As a best practice method, you’ll want to put out your chain at least 5 times the depth of the water. So for every metre of water you’re sitting in, you’ll need to put out 5 metres of chain. When done this way it’s more likely that your anchor will sit at a lower angle on the seabed, increasing lateral resistance and giving you the best anchoring position.
#6: Going on a long trip without checking your trailer
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a boating trip, but too many times, people forget to check what the boat is riding on.. the trailer. The trailer is just as important as the boat, and its imperative you keep the trailer well maintained. Basic servicing, just like your car must be conducted on every trailer.. Things like bearings and brake shoes wear out, and will need to be replaced. Grease needs to be applied to bearings and nipples, and hand brakes need to be adjusted.
So there you have it, five common boating mistakes to avoid on your next adventure. Obviously there’s a few lessons to be learned here, and tools that you can pick up and add to your boating kit to make sure you’re prepared for just about any situation the water could put you in.
It’s always better to be prepared than to go out for a great day on the water and have your plans turned upside down by one of these common mistakes. Take heed, and get ready for your next great boating adventure – there’s nothing quite like being out on the open water after all.
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