9 BOATING SKILLS YOU NEED TO KNOW
The more refined and better your boating skills are, the safer everyone is aboard your vessel. Whether it is a small dinghy with an outboard motor or a large yacht, there are some skills that anyone who takes the helm needs to know before setting off.
KNOW YOUR BOATING AIDS
If you take a basic boat safety course, one of the first things they teach you is how to read boating navigation markers. They also teach you how to interact with other boats on the waterway. When you drive a car, you need to be able to read the road and understand the rules of traffic before you get behind the wheel, it is no different when you are on a boat. Know how to handle a crossing, how to overtake and how to deal with a head-on situation before you set off.
HOW TO LOAD A BOAT
Knowing the right way to load and trim a boat will make it easier to handle out on the water. Loading your boat incorrectly will result in a lower top speed. If you have a lot of heavy fishing, diving gear or just a load of bodies, weight distribution becomes even more important to get the most out of your boat.
KNOW THE REGULATIONS
Depending on what boat you own and how many people you have on board, there are government regulations you need to adhere to. Make yourself familiar with these before you leave the dock.
Watching someone dock who is unfamiliar with the principles of wind and current can be hilarious, but in certain situations, it is outright dangerous. The ability to manoeuvre your boat effectively at very low speeds is also an acquired skill that comes in very handy when docking.
HOW TO TRAILER AND LAUNCH
If you know the ins and outs of transporting your boat, it unlocks a whole world of waterways and potential fishing spots. Get proficient and quick at trailering and launching your boat so it isn’t a chore every time you want to take her somewhere new.
HOW TO GET UNSTUCK IF YOU RUN AGROUND
Running your boat in shallow water is never ideal but with the skills and knowhow to read the water, identify shallow water, and to get unstuck if you come aground will pay dividends if you find yourself in a sticky situation.
HOW TO SET YOUR ANCHOR
When choosing a spot to set your anchor, you need to be out of a strong current, away from strong winds, and as far out of the way from other boat traffic as possible. Then you have the challenge of securing the anchor itself.
BOAT IN COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC
If you are an offshore fisho or will be taking your boat out into deeper waters regularly, you might need to make yourself aware of how to boat in shipping channels. I have a mate from the UK who takes his boat out into the channel. Aside from being notoriously choppy, he has to contend with commercial shipping traffic – rather him than me.
HOW TO USE A VHF RADIO
You might need to call for help. If you have no idea how to use a VHF radio offshore, help may not be forthcoming.
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