First Time Boat Owner Tips [Owning a Boat for Dummies]

One would say, the old and retired people would love to do this, but no… every individual needs this kind of a holiday or a break in today’s stressful life. You just need a boat. One can rent a boat or even own one.

Owning a boat is fun and exciting. You don’t have to go through the struggle of booking tickets and seeing the availability of the ticket on the date of your choice of travel. You just need to hop on your boat and start your fun trip. And the most exciting part of your trip is that you make your own schedule and itinerary. You are not bound to anyone.

Though, owning and operating a boat can be intimidating for beginners.

In this article, we would be sharing a few first time boat owner tips. These will help you get started with boating. This will consist of tips and tricks, the required equipment and storage of your boat.

First Time Boat Owner Tips & Tricks

When you own a vehicle, you need to know how to ride/ drive and park the vehicle. Without knowing these you cannot use it. So, the first important tip for new boat owners is to try and practice driving and parking the boat along with the trailer. It will take a while for you to get perfect in it. Do not give up as ‘Practice makes perfect’.

You will be requiring help while parking the boat along with the trailer. You need to coordinate with hand signals and not verbally as the boat ramps are usually noisy and crowded. So, make sure you and your partner know the right-hand signals.

The beginner should learn each step slowly and not panic. Ignore the crowd and stares at the ramp as you’re a learner. It’s your time at the ramp so seize the moment and focus on your driving.

The learner should always keep his leg on the brake pedal and shouldn’t accelerate more than required. Boating isn’t about speeding.  In fact, when you are going down the ramp you do not need to hit the gas pedal. You need to be very careful while turning the trailer with the boat.

Unlike driving, in trailer-backing you need to keep your hands at the bottom of the wheel in order to establish a left/ right relationship. This is kind of confusing as it’s the exact opposite in case of driving a car. The learner needs to get a hang on this.

Do not stress or worry about the public. It’s your time to use the ramp. Focus just on your hands and not the surroundings.

Backing up and moving forward a tow vehicle and boat are both different depending on the size of the trailer.  A longer trailer is easier to back up as it does not jackknife while it’s difficult to move forward. On the contrary, a shorter trailer is hard to back up as it jackknifes easily while it’s easy to move forward.

When a trailer is jack-knifed, you fall into a tricky situation. You do not need to stress out, calmness and smartness is the key factor here. If your trailer is jackknifed, put your feet on the brake pedal and turn the steering wheel all the way in the opposite direction of the jackknife; meaning to say if the trailer is jackknifed to the left side then by hitting the brake pedal turn the wheel to the right side.

A trailer being so huge is difficult to manage just by one person. A guide is always a good option. A guide who can help you with directions and turns. It’s almost impossible to view the entire trailer on a turn through the rearview mirror.

Do not buy the boat accessories immediately. First, learn boating and if you think it’s a piece of cake then go ahead with the shopping. If not then you’ve saved yourself a lot of money going down the drain.

You need a valid license to drive and ride any kind of vehicle. The same goes for boating. Apply for the license so the cops do not ruin your relaxing break/vacation. Insurance has several policies to be considered before offering it, such as; age of boat, length, value, speed, condition, ownership etc.

Learn the simple and basic maintenance and repairs so you could manage it all by yourself and save money. This will come in handy in case of any kind of emergency on sea where you cannot find help. You’ll be thankful for the videos or tutors later on who taught you.

Expect the unexpected is a perfect saying for boating. Be prepared well in advance with your accessories and equipment for any sort of surprises. Plan well before so you never get to say ‘if’.

Plan your trip by looking at the weather conditions. Do not travel on harsh weather condition days.

Listen and consider other’s experience of their sea trips and consider their advice. You never know which tip might save your life.

If you find any technical issue or an onboard issue, then its best to stop and solve the problem right away. Look for a nearby harbor and fix it as soon as you can before things go out of control.

Check the boat maintenance checklist- engine, boat’s hull and topsides, electrical systems, plumbing and HVAC systems, moving parts like hinges, tracks and zippers, canvas and upholstery.

And the most important tip of all is to ‘ENJOY’.

Focusing on the above tips will make your vacation nostalgic and mesmerizing.

After the tips for new boat owners, the next important step is to purchase equipment for your own safety. It will be suicidal if you travel anywhere in the world without being thoroughly equipped. Here’s a list of equipment which will be useful for boat owners.

Equipment Required for New Boat Owners

Equipment for New Boat Owners

First aid kit: your first aid kit should be handy and kept in a place that is easily accessible for all (except kids).It should contain;

  • various sizes and shapes of plasters
  • sterile gauze dressings of various sizes
  • bandages
  • crepe bandages
  • disposable sterile gloves
  • scissors
  • alcohol free wipes
  • thermometer
  • Dettol
  • Medicines- painkillers, ointments, etc.

Safety first: a bad time is never known. So always be prepared for the worst. There’s no harm in that, right. You’ll be needing these for your own safety;

Life jackets of various sizes-preferably automatic inflatable life jacket which will self-inflate when submerged in water. Choose the best quality one as this will save your life. No compromise when it comes to life!

Women should ensure they get a life jacket suitable for their body shape.

  • Whistle for life jacket
  • Light/ torch
  • Throw able floatation
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Spare parts- engine, propeller, and batteries

Thermal clothing: this is best suitable for sailors going for a long journey. These special insulated thermal clothes prevent the body from cold. It’s a must in winters.

For more information on what your Boat Emergency Kit should look like, Click Here to check out our in-depth guide. Alternatively, you can purchase a complete boat emergency kit from Amazon by Clicking Here.

Emergency: in case of any emergency, you may have to get in touch with someone so keep a phone in a waterproof bag.

Fire extinguisher: they are a must requirement by the federal law. The number of fire extinguishers required depends on the size of the boat. Different extinguishers are used for different purposes of a boat fire.Usually, Class C is used.

Radio: you may need it to get in touch with your team regarding queries

Water ski and flags: flags are needed to indicate the location

Paddle: preferably wood paddle is recommended

Shoes: simple boat shoes are preferred

Bags: light, tough and strongwaterproof bags are highly recommended. The bags should be for rough use and may also have pockets to store mobile phones. A bag with a long shoulder strap, easy to carry will be a good choice.

Ventilation: boats that require gasoline for electrical generation or mechanical power should have ventilation

Navigation lights: these lights come into effect when the visibility rate is poor (fog, rain, haze, etc.). It’s also used at the time of sunset and sunrise.

Pollution regulations: when you are surrounded by water on all four sides, where would you throw your trash or garbage? Well, you wouldn’t want to harm the sea animals by throwing trash in the sea, right?  So be alert.

Storage of Your Boat

First time boat owner storage

Boat storage is another topic which stumps first time boat owners. It’s really not as complicated or difficult as you may think.

You can store the boat in water all year long if the winters are relatively mild. They can also be stored in outdoor boat garages which are not too expensive or difficult to find. They can also be stored in indoor boat storage which are relatively expensive but give more protection to your boat and such storage are quite difficult to find.

The cost of storing your boat depends on two factors- your location and the size of the boat. The prices vary from area to area.

If the boat has a trailer, it’s even cheaper as it can be parked in the parking area of a local marina.


I hope you found these first time boat owner tips useful. You should now be able to get started on the water. You’re now on the right path and on your way to perfecting the art of boating.

If you still find yourself puzzled by anything, feel free to use the search function on the blog as I’ve already uploaded over a hundred boating related articles, with many of those being guides appropriate for beginners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *