A Comprehensive Guide to Boat Ownership

For most people, their boat and the marine world as a whole provides the opportunity to relax and unwind from the stressors of the modern world. This is why owning a boat is an incredibly popular investment for many people. Having a boat represents freedom and opportunity; most waterborne activities are great for physical and mental health. 

That being said, if you do own or plan to own a boat, there is information that you need to know to ensure that your boat is operating efficiently and legally. Read on for all the essentials you need to know for responsible boat ownership.

Getting the Right Boat

The first step to responsible boat ownership is getting the right boat for you and your needs. Before buying, do your research into what type of boat would be best for you and if that type of boat has any specific requirements in terms of upkeep or licencing. Make sure that you are purchasing your vessel from a reputable business such as TheYachtMarket. They have boats for sale that suit all budgets and preferences across many locations around the world.

Getting the Right Boat Insurance

Once you have made the investment, you need to protect it from loss, liability, or damage with the appropriate insurance coverage. Catalogue the risks that come with your vessel and ensure that your policy covers them for it. For example, is your vessel at risk of a fuel spillage or leak? If so, ideally, your insurance should cover cleaning costs and other associated expenses. Your policy should also cover boat or trailer replacement should an accident take place whilst towing. In addition, the cover should extend to all damages to the boat, equipment, property or personal injury that results from any boat-related mishap. Lastly, you should look for a policy that includes wreckage removal too. 

Learn Maintenance Requirements

After purchasing your boat, you need to take some time to learn how to properly take care of your boat. Each boat will have different requirements and a routine that needs implementing to make sure that the boat is operating at maximum efficacy. For example, you may need to learn how to inspect the filter, tilt systems and steering equipment. Can you change the filter, oil and grease lubricant? Cleaning the boat is an integral part of maintaining it as it reduces the possibility of mechanical and visual degradation. Compile a checklist of all maintenance needs and how often they need to take place.

Stocking Your Boat with the Proper Equipment

Your boat may not come with all the equipment that you need. And so, it would be prudent that you make a list of all essential equipment and make sure that whatever your boat is missing that you go out and buy it. Essential equipment includes dock lines, flotation devices, medical kits, signals, fire extinguishers, radio, torch, flags, oars or paddles, and an anchor. Some of these things are legal requirements.

These legal requirements will change depending on where you are, but for example, in Britain, any boat over 13.7 meters long must carry life jackets, life rafts, flares and fire extinguishers. Of course, the exact requirements mentioned differ depending on locale, size of the boat and how far away from the coast you are travelling.

Storing Your Boat

Where is your boat going to be kept when you are offshore? In some cases, you may be able to keep your boat on your driveway; if not, you may have to look for alternatives. For example, you could rent a storage unit or a garage to keep your boat. Or, if you live near to the water, you could pay to dock or moor your boat locally. However, if you plan to keep your boat outside often, then investing in a good cover may be worth it as UV rays can cause damage.

Towing Your Boat

If you plan to tow your boat to water after purchase, then you must master this skill before getting your boat. Do you have all the equipment that you need to tow? Is your car or vehicle suited to towing? These are things that you need to consider as they can impact the safety of not only you but other road users whilst you tow your boat. 

Launching Your Boat

This can be one of the most daunting tasks, especially for those who have only rented before, as it is probably not something that you have had to do before. Do not worry; it is not as complicated as it seems at first glance. As with anything, it requires practice. You need to learn how to reverse down the ramp, unhitch the boat and launch it successfully. The reverse of this is that you obviously need to learn how to reload the boat to tow it again.

Boating Safety and Safety at Sea

This is perhaps the most important aspect of responsible boat ownership. Irresponsible or inept behaviour out at sea can be dangerous. And so, before you launch your boat, you should learn from experienced boaters and regulating bodies to respect the rules put in place to ensure the safety of you and your passengers. Learn some basic nautical navigation rules and follow some basic guidelines and safety measures. For example, do not get intoxicated and operate the boat, do not swim in areas where the boat is connected to shore power, boarding or the propeller region.

There are international safety regulations that you must follow if you are using the boat out at sea. This means that you should always plan your voyage, carry a radar reflector, a diagram of life-saving signals, use any distress signals properly, and you must always help another vessel if they need it. If at any point you are involved in a boating accident, and you are found not to have followed the correct regulations, you face prosecution. 

Preventing Collisions

When boating, there is the risk of collisions, and so to minimise the risk, you should fit lights, shapes and sound devices to your boat to signal your location to other boats. You should always try to stay a safe distance away from other boats, especially diving boats that are flying the blue and white ‘alpha’ flag. In general, practice awareness and alertness of your surroundings.

Environmental Impact

Boating can be no worse for the environment than driving a car in some cases. Even so, it is important to consider the environmental repercussions of your actions. For example, you should never drop oil or rubbish into the sea, and if your boat is over 12 meters long, you must display instructions detailing the proper procedure for disposing of rubbish.  

Out of date or expired boating equipment also need to be disposed of properly. Take flares, for example. It is an offence to dispose of out of date or damaged flares in your household rubbish, at sea, or in a public area. Instead, you should return them to where you bought them, or some marinas have a disposal service, life raft stations, or even some council recycling centres. 

In Conclusion

Whilst boating may seem like fun and games – which it should be – it is also vital that you are a responsible boat owner. Your decisions affect not only you but other boat and road users, not to mention your passengers. So, before buying a boat, make sure that you have done all of the research necessary to adhere to your regions’ legal and safety regulations. The above is an outline of the critical information; however, specifics will differ depending on the boat and your location. 

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