It’s expected that by 2026, the global recreational boating market will have a value of $38.03 billion

If you’ve always wanted to sail out and enjoy the water for yourself, you may have considered buying or renting a boat. However, you don’t want to simply hop aboard without proper training and the right equipment. That’s why we’re covering boating basics in this essential beginner guide. 

Read on to learn crucial tips about boat ownership and safety. 

Know the Boating Licensing Requirements

First, you must know that licensing requirements vary by state. Florida law states that anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 needs to take an appropriate boating safety course. Receiving a Boating Safety Education Identification Card is the proof of completion necessary. 

This law applies to boats with 10 horsepower or more. Some people may be exempt, but be sure you understand your state’s laws before you take to the water. 

Have the Necessary Boat Safety Equipment

If something happens while you’re on your boat, you must be ready to safely and efficiently remedy the situation. For instance, if someone falls overboard, having a life jacket on could save their life. 

Here’s what you need on your vessel: 

  • Easily accessible, wearable, and approved PFD (life jacket)
  • At least one throwable flotation device (Type IV)
  • Fire extinguisher (consider boat size)
  • Visual distress signal
  • Auditory signaling device

Optional equipment you should consider includes: 

  • First-aid kit
  • Oars or paddles
  • Bailing device
  • VHF radio
  • Weather radio
  • Diver down flag
  • Anchor

Understand Boat Safety

In addition to having the right equipment, you must know how to use it. Plus, you should know what to do in the event of an emergency. 

That’s why it’s crucial to start learning about boating safety. You should learn most of the basics in a new boater class, though it’s always a good idea to refresh your memory from time to time and keep learning. 

Know How to Launch and Dock a Boat

Speaking of the basics of boat ownership, understanding how to launch and dock a vessel are two of the most essential skills to learn. 

Not only will you need to know how to move the trailer into the water, but you’ll also need to keep an eye on current conditions. Factors such as the weather and currents will affect how easy it is to get the boat in the water. 

Launching the boat quickly and efficiently is a skill you’ll get better at with enough practice. 

Next, you must know how to dock it. Since each dock and situation differs, the key is to go slowly. Take it easy to prevent damaging your boat. 

Practice Maneuvering and Handling

Once you’re on the water, it’s crucial to pay attention to all speed limits while operating a boat. These limits are in place to reduce accidents to other vessels and people.

Much like a car, you need to learn how your boat handles. Observe how long it takes to turn, how well it handles choppy water, how long it takes to slow down, etc. 

Enjoy the Open Water

These essential boating tips for beginners should put you on the right path. Make sure you take a boater education class, obtain all necessary licenses or identification cards, and practice safe operation. 

Are you ready to find a boat of your own? Take a look at the many boats for sale listed on The Mariner, where you’ll find plenty of great deals near you.