The appeal of being on the open water is simply too much to ignore. Having your own boat allows for relaxed schedules, family time, and the joy of independence. But—what should you do if your crew is inexperienced? How much maintenance is required? Harbortown Marina – Canaveral is here to help answer the important questions every new boater has.
- Who can drive the boat?
Anyone with a certified boater’s education certificate over the age of 14 is able to operate a boat in Florida.
2. When can the boat be driven?
You cannot operate personal watercraft between ½ hour after sunset and ½ before sunrise. If you are taking a boat out after dusk, slow down. Hazards in the water are harder to see in the dark; taking it slow will help you spot and avoid them. During operation, navigation lights must be turned on.
3. Who has to wear a life jacket?
Children under the age of six must wear a life jacket at all times. For everyone else onboard, there must be a USCG-certified life jacket present.
4. What forms of identification should the operator carry?
Anyone who could potentially operate the boat should carry their boater’s safety card (which is required by Florida law) and a secondary form of identification, such as a state driver’s license.
5. How do I dock?
This tends to be specific to each boat, but there are a few general tips that apply to every vessel. Go slow with your docking—help to avoid accidents by taking your time on the water. Communicate with your crew—they need to know where to be, and as a captain, you are responsible for directing them. Knowing your ropes—go over the ropes and knots BEFORE you set sail for the first time. Trying to dock after a long day of boating with a tired and inexperienced crew is not the docking experience you want. If you’re still stuck, try looking up specific tips to your boat.
6. What do I do with an inexperienced crew?
Learn together. Sit down and practice tying knots as a group, figure out the ins and outs of the boat before you make the maiden voyage, and be patient. Everyone is learning, and boating is meant to be a fun experience, not a stressful one.
7. How much maintenance is required?
This varies depending on boat type and usage. The more a boat is used, the more the decks should be cleaned to prevent mineral and slime build up. For an average boater, the hull should be cleaned once a month.
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