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Find A Balance

If you were to survey the boating community and asked them why the bought a boat, most would answer that they love to be on the water.  Some would respond they love the boats as much as being on the water.  Very few would explain that they like to plan and prepared, but that is exactly what you need to when are boating.  Finding a balance between preparedness and having fun is a must.  Here are a few ideas that can help you find that balance.
 
The first item on our list is know how to operate your boat.  Seems obvious, but it's not always the case.  Think of all the information you must know to run a boat.  If you don't keep your boat in a marina, then you must learn how to connect the trailer to your vehicle and then how to drive with a trailer attached.  Then you need to make sure you know how to launch your boat.  When you get on the water, you need to know how to operate your boat.  You need to know how to navigate as well as learn the water rules of the road.  Then there is how to anchor, dock and undock your boat.  Whew, the list is long, but you need to take time and learn these things so that you can enjoy your time on the water.
 
We think that learning how to operate your boat bears discussing a bit further.  You need to learn how to manage your boat correctly.  Every boat operates differently.  Think about it like this, when you get into a car, it runs just like every other car, but you must find out where the turn signal is, how to turn on the wipers, etc.  You need to do the same thing a boat.  Take the time to figure out where everything is before you set sail. 
 
Secondly, we encourage you to enjoy the beauty of the water but stay focused too.  You need pay attention to the waterway.  Being unfocused for even a brief moment can result in an accident.  Be mindful of the weather.  Make sure you are keeping an eye on your boat's instrument panel, checking to make sure everything is running as it should.  And stay focused on your energy level.  You need to be alert on the water to keep everyone one safe.  If you are tired, then its time to dock and call it a day. Again, find the balance. You don't want to be a nervous wreck and not enjoy the water, but you also need to stay focused.
 
Thirdly you need to be prepared for emergencies.  Make sure that all your emergency equipment is working before you set sail.  File your float plan.  
And make sure that the passengers on your boat know what to do in an emergency.  This one can be tough, because you have invited them on the boat to have fun, so it seems like a buzz kill to go over safety information, but you have to keep them safe if something were to happen.  So take a few minutes to go over basic safety tips. 
One often overlooked item is make sure they know how to use the safety equipment including the radio.  What happens if something happened to you while you are on the water, could they operate the safety equipment, could they radio for help?  Your passenger can enjoy themselves more knowing what to do if an emergency should arise.
 
Lastly be aware.  If you are boating in a new area, take some time before you set sail to find out about the water.  Are there any hazardous areas or conditions of which you need to be aware.  We mentioned the weather before, and we will do it again.  Check the weather report before you launch, but also keep your eye on the sky when you are on the water.  Sudden storms are rare, but they do happen.  You don't want to put yourself and passengers at risk.
 
There are numerous ways to can increase your knowledge.  Check with your boats manufacture for the proper operating procedure.  Read and watch everything they have so you are familiar with all of your boat's functions.  Check with your local water authorities for any classes or education they offer.  There is an online boating exam that you can take.  Take a local weather class to learn what sever weather looks like in your area.  Knowing, and keeping focused when you are on the water will give you a great balance between enjoyment and safety.