Owning your own boat can be a fun and rewarding adventure. It gives you amazing access to your local waters and lets you take your fun on vacation as well. However, there are a few things that all new boat owners should understand about costs and safety before taking the plunge.
Costs of Owning a Boat
Boats can be an amazing source of entertainment, but according to BetterBoat, they can also have surprising costs that may take an owner unawares. Besides the sticker price, plus a trailer for hauling, you will need to consider a few other major costs. Regular maintenance on a boat can be up to 10 percent of the sticker price. Fuel costs can run into the thousands per year. Buying a mooring or docking slip at a harbor will incur more expenses, which can be avoided by using your vehicle to transport your boat to a launch instead. However, if you cannot store the boat at your home, you will need to purchase a spot for that. Boat insurance is also a must, though usually only a few hundred dollars per year. State and local fees for things like registration may also apply, and of course, in many climates, a boat cannot be kept in the water during freezing winters. Keep in mind that many factors can influence costs, including your location, the type of boat, size and more.
What to Keep Onboard
You have researched all the costs, decided the boat was in your budget and have it in the water at last. Now, you need to decide what to keep on your boat in terms of safety. The first thing to consider is life jackets. According to Viles & Beckman, life jackets would have saved victims of 80 percent of fatal boat accidents. Being on the water adds a dangerous dimension to boating, and life jackets are invaluable for safety. Additionally, a stocked first aid kit will help with various injuries should they occur. Having a flashlight, whistle, flares or signaling mirror will give you the ability to contact help in the event of a boating accident on the water. Finally, make sure there is an easily available, non-expired fire extinguisher on board at all times.
Driving and Operating a Boat
With the boat in the water and safely equipped, you may be tempted to just cruise right out onto the open water. However, it may be in your best interest to take a boater safety course first. This will teach you basics such as how to safely drive the boat, rights of way, weather hazards and more. While the basics of driving a boat are similar to a car, there are enough differences to make it dangerous for an inexperienced operator to take a boat out without training. For instance, according to Lake Expo, boat stopping distance can differ radically from that of a road vehicle. However, one commonality is that you should never drink and drive a boat. Despite the seeming openness of the water, boating while under the influence significantly increases the risk of accidents and drowning.
Owning a boat can be a ticket to a lifetime of adventure. However, with numerous costs and a specific set of safety rules, it is certainly not an adventure to jump into blind. If you properly plan and evaluate though, you can avoid common pitfalls for a safe and affordable time out on the water.
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