Dipping Your Toe Into the Boating World – A Boating Guide For Beginners

It can be daunting to enter the world of boating for the first time. That’s why we’ve put together this series of questions to guide you through your boat-buying, sea-faring process from start to finish. 

1. What are you planning to use your boat for?

One of the main influences on boat choice is boat use. Will you be using your boat for leisure and beach trips with the family? Or are you looking for a fishing vessel?  Consider whether you will be cruising overnight or sailing too, so you can find the right boat for you. Whatever the intended purpose, there is a boat best suited to that activity. Check out our blog on the different types of ocean boats for more guidance.

2. Size: How many people will be using the boat?

Another important factor to consider is the number of passengers you will be carrying. Whether you’re flying solo or taking the in-laws out for the day, your boat needs to have the capacity to safely carry all your passengers. 

3. Location: Where will you be boating?

Depending on whether you’re planning a river cruise or a deep-ocean fishing trip, your boat will need to be suited to your environment. It’s important to do some research into the best boats for wild weather if you want to tackle the high seas, for example.

4. Time: Where will you keep your boat when you’re not using it?

Think carefully about how many times per year you will feasibly take your boat out. If this time is scarce, you may want to look into keeping your boat somewhere safe and secure in the meantime to prevent damage or theft. Alternatively, perhaps renting a boat is the better option for you.

5. Price: How much are you willing to spend on a boat?

Boats aren’t cheap. So, if you’re willing to make the investment, you should make sure you’ve covered all bases. Firstly, consider whether you’d rather have a brand-new or pre-used boat. Secondly, whichever boat you buy should be certified. You should conduct a marine survey or a sea trial to check it is sea-worthy before paying, too. Lastly, assess your options in terms of boat financing to make sure you can cover the costs.

6. Maintenance:  Do you know the basic maintenance requirements to keep your boat afloat?

The boat itself isn’t the only thing you’ll be spending on; you’ll also need to factor in costs for: 

  • Fuel 
  • Maintenance 
  • Moorage and/or dry docking
  • Boat insurance 
  • Any crew or hired help

While these costs differ depending on the size and type of boat, it’s good to have a general outline of possible expenditures. 

7. Fundamentals: Do you know what equipment you’ll need on your boat?

Aside from the boat itself (and the anchor, of course), there is a long list of additional equipment and documents you will need to stay afloat. 

Boat Insurance Certificate 
It’s best to carry this document with you to minimise stress if an accident were to happen. In fact, some marinas may request your insurance certificate as a condition of entry. 

A Nautical Almanac
Priced at around £30, this document will provide you with safety advice and tidal information for the UK and Northern Europe.

Available for the whole of the UK for under £50, these electronic GPS systems are a necessity. 

8. Safety First: Do you know how to ensure your boat is safe?

Below is an introductory list of items you will need onboard to keep you and your passengers safe. For more detail on Boat Safety, read our blog post

  • Life jackets and wearable PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices)
  • Throwable floatation devices 
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Visual signalling devices (boats over 16ft must carry visual signals for both day and night use)
  • Sound signalling devices (boats over 39ft must carry a bell to be sounded during times of limited visibility)
  • A marine first aid kit for minor emergencies 
  • Oars or paddles in case of engine failure 
  • A VHF radio (or cellphone, at least) to call for help

And that’s it for the basics. Use this list to guide you through your boat-buying process and you’ll be underway in no time!