Does fear of looking foolish keep you from boating?

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To overcome that fear, I’ll share some basic boating pointers for non-boaters. Your safety is foremost, then your comfort and enjoyment of your boating experience.

Safety briefing: The captain will give a safety briefing on life vest, fire extinguisher and first aid kit location plus the boat’s operation. Make yourself aware of handholds since the captain doesn’t want to show their man overboard rescue skills using you.

Footwear: NO high heels or hard, black-bottom shoes. Flip-flops are not suitable for boating. Wear shoes that have good traction when wet and that dry quickly. Barefoot provides no traction and no protection from cleats and other deck hardware.

Clothing: Layered, comfortable for free movement. Even in summer, it gets cool on the water, especially when sunburned. Wear fast-drying clothes. Maybe bring a change of clothes. Synthetics are better than natural fibers, especially cotton. Imagine treading water in wet jeans.

Sun protection: Bring a hat with a wide, all around brim. Also have a way of securing it to you because hats fly off and sink quickly. Don’t forget sunscreen, the higher the SPF the better.

Buttons, switches and hatches: Don’t press, turn or open without asking.

Overnights: If overnight on the boat, bring soft luggage or a duffle bag. Use travel size toiletries. Ladies, ditch the hairspray and make up. 

Modesty: Someone asked about modesty in a boat’s close quarters. My rule No. 1: God made heads to turn; rule No. 2: Don’t laugh too loudly.

Food and drink: Bringing these is always appreciated but do not bring glass aboard a boat. Bring only fully prepared snacks. Ice is a precious commodity on a boat so a cooler of ice will win you a return invitation.

Fuel: This is a major expense. Any sharing of fuel cost will always win a return invitation. A fill up can run $250 to $1,000 or more. So flipping the captain a twenty, like a big spender is in poor taste.

Dock fees: The cost per foot for a weekend slip can range $0.75 to $2.25. So, like fuel, step up and do the right thing. Still, in doubt? Ask.

Fishing gear: I omitted this because fishermen know what and how much to bring. Let’s convert the non-fisherman by sharing your gear and experience.

Docking: Do not grab lines or anything without orders. The captain will position you safely out-of-the-way. Follow the captain’s orders because your and everyone’s safety and enjoyment depend on it.

These pointers sound serious and they are. They guarantee that you’ll have fun boating and be safe, along with getting a return invitation. It’s simple; come prepared and be prepared.

For local information on boating safety and education, we invite you to go to our website or email to