New boaters typically make a few bone-headed moves the first few times they go boating, but even the most experienced captains occasionally mess up.
Here’s a list of the 10 most common boating blunders:
Mistake #1: Stepping from the dock onto the boat or vice versa and keeping a foot on each one as the boat pulls away. This usually results in doing “the splits” and/or falling into the water.
Mistake #2: Leaving a line attached to the dock as you drive the boat away. This makes for a really short trip!
Mistake #3: Forgetting to put the drain plug back in the boat before launching it. At best, you’ll get your feet wet. At worst, it can lead to “that sinking feeling”.
Mistake #4: Putting fuel in your boat’s water fill. This causes a malodorous mess in the fresh-water tank that is difficult and expensive to clean. Many boat fills look identical at first glance; be sure to check twice before pumping to be sure you have the right one.
Mistake #5: Forgetting “Right Red Return” when navigating between the buoys in the IntraCoastal Waterway – or forgetting which way “Right Red Return” applies, north or south. Either way, this is a sure way to wind up aground.
Mistake #6: Neglecting to run the blower before you start the boat’s inboard or sterndrive engine(s). The bilge blower dissipates fumes that can build up in the engine compartment. If you don’t run the blower, ignition can cause a spark that could lead to an explosure or fire like the video below.
Here are some fueling tips from Kelly's Port at Lake of the Ozarks:
- ALWAYS turn on your blower for 2-5 minutes after refueling. Turning on your blower while fueling is recommended as well.
- NEVER open up an engine compartment if there is fire. EVER.
- If there is a fire, get everyone off the vessel IMMEDIATELY (and we're going to throw your pets in there because we love our pets).
Mistake #7: Failing to secure the anchor line properly to the boat. When you or your mate heave the Danforth into the water, it’s gone – rope, chain, and all – and the boat is still floating free. If you are prone to this common boater’s mistake, keep a mask and snorkel onboard for the resulting underwater hunt.
Mistake #8: Approaching the dock too fast. Take your time, assess the direction of the wind and current, make adjustments to compensate for them, and then pull in slowly. Otherwise, you may have a date with “Captain Crunch”. Here's a very entertaining video on "How to dock like a boss."
Mistake #9: Forgetting to secure your boat to its trailer before pulling it back up the launch ramp. When you hit the gas, the boat hits the ramp!
Mistake #10: Overloading the boat. This not only causes it to lose performance, but it also can lead to the boat capsizing, the passengers ending up in the water, and even loss of life.
There you have it. Our top 10 mistakes that boaters make. What mistakes have you made while boating? We promise you're probably not alone.