Helpful Boating Tips

Helpful Boating Tips


·         Before going out on your boat, put things such as phones, keys, wallets, and other electronic devices in waterproof or plastic bags


·         Be sure that another passenger on your boat knows how to drive and call for help in case of an emergency


·         Check weather often to ensure a safe trip on the water whether it be out on the ocean or back in the bays


·         Make sure all of your Federal, State, and Local decals and boat information as well as safety precautions are correct before heading out on to the water


·         Know the high and low tide times


·         Always use marine grade parts when your boat needs repairs, they last longer and can prevent hazardous problems


·         Bring many snacks and a lot of water when going out on to the water


·         Overdress; conditions can be different on the water than they are on land, you can take clothes off if need be


·         Bring items such as bug spray and sun tan lotion, the sun is more powerful than you think


·         Always take a fully charged VHF radio with you at all times 


When docking, it is important to remember these important steps. Coming into the dock, you want to receive the bow line first. Pull yourself in and tie it off then pull the stern in with a second line. Just make sure you’re in far enough so you don’t fall into the water trying to get off to stretch your legs or do whatever else you can imagine doing after docking. If it is relatively windy, remember to keep your bow into the wind to make it easier on yourself. 

Undocking is a bit more difficult, and there are a few more steps to this process. First of all, when casting off, you need to remove the ropes in the opposite order that you received them in. After removing all lines excluding the bow line, push off the stern, idling out. When you’re a good distance from the dock with the stern, remove the bow line and reverse the boat until you are a comfortable distance from the dock. At that point, pivot the boat out into the great, vast [insert whichever body of water you happen to be in]. 

**Important reminder! Your boat isn’t a car (unless it is, then that would be awesome): it doesn’t steer, it pivots on an axis.


Windsocks are placed at many marinas, coast gaurd stations, and private homes. Most of the time their presence is in vain because most seamen have no clue about how to utilize them. In short it is very simple, and utilizes one of a good captain's favorite tools- estimation. A full sock indicates winds of atleast 15 knots, while it takes atleast 3 knots to lift the sock at all. Obviously wind direction can be observed by the direction the sock is blowing. If the sock is about half full, you can safely assume about 7 knots of wind. A knot is 1.15 mph. 



There are many benefits to using alternative GPS/Chartplotters. Standard chart plotters for one are very expensive. They take getting used to as far as formatting, general use, and maintenance. Although they are rugged, built for marine environments, and can be conveniently mounted near the helm, on a swing arm in the companion way for ease of use in the cockpit, or below while plotting, or under way. In our technological age many alternatives have come about and can be just as practical if not more useful than the traditional units. 

Smart Phone Applications

There are many apps today that can do anything a traditional chart plotting unit or GPS can do plus much more. 

1.       Seapilot: This is my personal cellphone based navigation app. You are going to have to shell out the 5 bucks to upgrade from the lite version if you plan on using this for real navigational purposes. It has everything that a high-end plotter has available through the use of plug-ins. I am talking radar, way points, charts for anywhere on the blue yonder, wind speed/direction, tides pretty much anything you will need for safe and convenient navigation. Neptune approved. If you don’t want to use your data, or travel outside cell coverage offshore chasing those tuna or marlin, you can get an external GPS for your phone pretty cheap on amazon. This external GPS also saves battery life by eliminating your phones need to update and search for service. 

2.       Anchor: This app has got me many a needed good worry free rest at anchor. As anyone who has spent the night aboard at a tight anchorage or one surrounded by shallow water knows, it can definitely be enough to keep you up at night worrying if your anchor is set correctly or is slipping or dragging due to heavy wind or tides. You can set your radius at several increments, and as soon as your go outside the provided area, your phone will start chirping, buzzing, and vibrating loud enough to wake up Davey Jones. Another little tip I do sometimes when I can is tape a rodtip glow stick used for night fishing on a nearby mooring or buoy, just for a little visual reference and added peace of mind. This is not really necessary with the app, but is comforting if you expect weather or tide to pick up overnight. 

3: West marine recommends "iNAVX" 

“This relatively advanced nav-app takes advantage of NOAA raster chartography, but can also expand your charting options with the X-Traverse service ($10/year,, which allows you to wirelessly transfer charting data from your PC or Mac to your phone, and vice-versa. It's compatible with Navionics Gold, HotMaps, and Fish'N'Chip charts, plus topography maps for the US and Canada. X-Traverse also brings social networking to boaters, as it enables you to upload or share data points and locations with Facebook updates. iNavX is for the icrowd only, at least for now, working on iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. It essentially turns your smart phone into a smart chartplotter, and supports a multitude of real-time chartplotting functions (including speed, course, and bearing data, anchor alarm, track logging, etc.), gives you the ability to import and export waypoints and routes with Google Earth, and includes tides and currents data and GRIB weather forecasting”

It is a bit pricey though coming in at 49.99 plus 9.99 a year for charts linked to NOAA. This does come in at about a 10th of the price of a traditional unit with similar capabilities. 

            4: Sailflow: Sailfow is a free app that provides information from thousands of wind indicators along the coast and offshore buoys. It is very helpful for not only sailing, but fishing, and passage making. You can plan for fishing spots, or safer waypoints, based on wind speed and direction information updated in real time from the indicators. 

   Laptop, Ipad, Android

            The best way to go if you have any laptop or pad device is simply OPENCPN

OPENCPN: Is a FREE chart plotting, navigation, GPS platform for mac/windows/ linux. It includes everything you will ever really need when navigating the ocean or ICW. Free plugins are available for all the fancy stuff like radar, tides, and even local knowledge. You can download the charts free on the website or NOAA website. I use this when ever I have my MacBook aboard. I would recommend buying an external GPS from amazon. They are as inexpensive as 29.99 and work great for anything I have ever needed it for. Plus its FREE!



    Sales in marine and boating markets have been on a steady rise since the market crash of 2008. As GDP, job markets, and finance, continue to show strong recovery. DI (disposable income) markets such as recreational boating, watercraft, and sporting such as fishing, skiing, wake-boarding etc, have caught the residual effects of the positive fiscal growth. 2014 saw a 7-8% growth in the sector, which is the third consecutive year of growth. The 2015 year is forcasted to follow suit with a projected growth of an at least 5% annual increase from last season. 
    Retail expenditure in the marine markets has also shown great positive growth as well. In fact, 2014 saw a 5% increase, this eclipses the 2007 season which was the highest market on record. The biggestgrowth in boating sales is seen in Ski/Wake-board boats, fiberglass run-a bouts, and personal watercraft (wave-runners).  

Here is a snippet from the NMMA report. 

U.S. recreational boating facts and figures (Source: NMMA)

  • Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and pre-owned boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services including fuel, repair, storage, insurance, taxes) increased 3.5 percent in 2013 to $36.8 billion.
  • Sales of powerboats (outboard, sterndrive, inboard and jet boats) were up 2.4 percent in 2013, reaching a total of 161,130 units. Unit sales are expected to have increased 5-7 percent in 2014 once numbers are calculated.
  • It’s not just new boats Americans are buying, there were an estimated 955,300 pre-owned boats (power, personal watercraft, and sail) sold in 2013.
  • Made in America: Ninety-five percent of powerboats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. Recreational boating in the U.S. creates more than 338,500 marine industry jobs, supporting more than 34,800 businesses.
  • Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 242 million adults in the U.S. in 2013, 89 million participated in recreational boating at least once during the year – up one percent from 2012.
  • There were an estimated 12 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other non-powered boats) in the U.S. in 2013 (the most recent data available).
  • Ninety-five percent of the boats on the water in the U.S. are 26 feet or less.
  • Seventy-two percent of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000


National Marine Manufacturer's Association 


For many die hard anglers in the area the fishing never ends. From January to January you can find fisherman drifting the inlet or trolling off-shore. For the rest of us it is almost is, or already was, time to drag the boat out of the water and sigh at the sight of it in the backyard. If you are still in the water the taug bite is on and most likely will be for weeks to come. Taug love crabs, any kind of crab really from peelers to blue. Here is a picture detailing how to rig them on the hook correctly for your best shot at some winter action.