Heading out on the water: a guide for first time boaters

A boating trip sounds like an idyllic vacation, price and this is one of the reasons why it has become so popular. Those who want to do this regularly can purchase a boat, but for those who are just starting out, it is possible to hire a boat for a week or two while giving the lifestyle a try.


Where to take a boating vacation

Why not head north and try houseboating on Lake Roosevelt? This is a man-made lake that can be found just a two hour drive northwest of Spokane, Washington. The waters are clear and the lake is edged with clean, sandy beaches while the area is surrounded with lush forests and meadows. Alternatively, go for a cruise along the Mississippi River. With more than 2,300 miles of the river available it might be necessary to put aside more than a couple of weeks for this vacation. There are also plenty of sandy beaches along the river, and there are a few islands where the family can enjoy a picnic lunch.

What to pack

On that first trip it is very easy to overdo it and pack any number of things that will never be used. First of all, it is a good idea to check and see what facilities are available on the boat. Packing a few kitchen utensils “just in case” is a waste of time when the kitchens on the boats are usually fully equipped. The main things to take are clothes, food and perhaps a few games to keep the kids entertained while away.

Essential information

For a first boating holiday, it is essential to understand how the boat works and what to do if anything should go wrong. In the case of a boat being rented, it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that the person they are renting to understands everything that they need to know about safety – for example, where to find the life jackets.

Those who are buying a boat before taking a boating vacation should ensure that they are familiar with everything on the boat before they set off and get as much information as possible from the previous owner before the sale has been completed. For a first time boater, the advantage of renting is obvious: it gives the opportunity to try it out before making a commitment to purchasing a boat. However, once that initial trip has been made, the whole family will know if boating vacations are to their liking. Buying a boat only to find out later that the family is not keen on that type of vacation could prove to be an expensive mistake.

In the event of an accident

The first step after ensuring that everybody is uninjured or obtaining medical assistance if they are, is to report the accident to the owner. Either the owner or the boat operator will need to file a formal boating accident report with the relevant authority under certain circumstances, such as a death or major injury. It may be that legal assistance is needed, in which case it is important to find a lawyer specializing in accidents on the water and is experienced with first time boaters.

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