Aquavista’s 10 Essential Tips for First-Time Boat Owners: Making the Most of Your Waterside Adventure

Aquavista’s 10 Essential Tips for First-Time Boat Owners: Making the Most of Your Waterside Adventure

Are you considering life on a canal boat in one of the UK’s beautiful marinas? If so, there are a few things to consider before buying or leasing a boat – or travelling on the water, at all. 

Here are ten things to know for first-time boat owners that will keep you and others safe and help you enjoy your time on the water for years to come: 

Know Your Boat 

Before you take a trip on any vessel – and especially before you commit to living on a canal boat – you should familiarize yourself with every part of the boat. Understanding each part’s function, capabilities, and features can help you better understand the boat you are spending time on. Study your owner’s manual carefully and consider taking a boating course to begin equipping yourself with the skills you need for safe sailing.

Invest in Safety Equipment 

Speaking of safety, it should always be your top priority on or around water. Learning proper safety procedures and necessary precautions is your first step toward keeping yourself and others safe. The second is equipping your boat with all the necessary safety gear. These include:

  • Life jackets
  • Life preservers or lifeboats
  • Fire extinguishers 
  • Distress signals 
  • A well-stocked first-aid kit

You should also prioritize a marine GPS system, as this can come in handy if you journey into unfamiliar waters or need to get reliable directions for travelling.

Master Basic Boating Skills

You might not be aiming to become a professional sailor, but mastering some basic boating skills is essential for living on a canal boat. Learning how to confidently operate and manoeuvre your boat will make you feel more comfortable spending time on it. Understanding navigational markers and learning how to safely and correctly dock will also serve you well. If you are starting from a place of complete ignorance, it might be a good idea to work with a professional to build and polish your skills.

Understand Your Maintenance Needs

If you plan to live on a boat, you want that boat to be in the best possible condition. Just as you might expect to perform maintenance on your home or holiday property, so too must you conduct regular inspections and maintenance on any boat you use. Create and stick to a maintenance schedule that includes tasks like engine checks, hull cleaning, and overall system inspections. Address any concerns you encounter promptly, so these small issues do not lead to large, costly repairs later. 

Stay Aware of Weather

Weather changes rapidly on the water – even more so than it does on land. This is one of the biggest changes people living on a canal boat face, since that rapidly changing weather can impact every other aspect of life on the water. Learn how the wind speed, direction, and patterns impact the waves and tides, and always be aware of the predicted weather for any day you plan to spend on the water. 

Practice Responsible Boating

As you learn the policies and procedures that make for safe boating, be sure to put them into practice in your everyday boat use. Whether you are moored or on the water, you will keep yourself and your crew safe, prolong the life of your boat, and be a pleasant person to sail alongside when you observe those rules – so do not ignore them!

Secure Proper Insurance 

When living on a canal boat, it is critically important to have proper insurance coverage for your vessel. Given that it will double as transportation and your home – even if temporarily – you should prioritize this before most other tasks. Ask an agent to explain what will and will not be covered, so you, your fellow travellers, and your boat will all be adequately protected.

Plan Ahead for Any Trips You Take

Day trips and long journeys should be treated with equal care when you are travelling by boat. Learn local laws and regulations regarding boats in both your home location and wherever you are travelling. Inform someone on the shore of your plans and approximately where you are going, and be sure to pack extra food and water just in case. You can never be too careful while sailing!

Learn Emergency Procedures

No matter how much you prepare and do your best to prevent any issues, emergencies may arise on the water. The best things you can do to protect yourself, your passengers, and your boat is to learn emergency procedures and create an emergency plan. Practising skills such as signalling to other vessels, calling for outside assistance, and rehearsing man-overboard drills can ensure that you and your crew are safe on the water, no matter what happens.

Join a Boating Community

Living on a canal boat is all about building community. One of the best ways to create that level of community is to join existing groups dedicated to boating. These groups – both on-water living and sailing groups – can help you learn more, make friends, and gather support from others with similar interests and experiences. With that kind of community around you, you will never feel alone on the water!