First boat: How to get started
9th May 2022 Elena Manighetti
So you bought your first boat. Congratulations! What’s next? What are the steps you should take before taking her out for the first time? There are a few important things to sort out, but one they’re done, you won’t have to think about them for a while.
In this article, we explain everything you need to do after you buy your very first boat.
Get boat insurance
This is essential. As soon as the boat belongs to you, she should be covered by insurance. You can choose whichever kind of policy you prefer, but be sure to buy one, even if it’s just a temporary third-party cover. It doesn’t matter if you purchased an old, cheap boat. Should it scrape another vessel at the dock or sink, you will need to cover the expenses entailed, such as fiberglass repair and recovery costs. You are liable for any damage caused by the boat.
Some people choose to purchase insurance a few days before the sale goes through, so there is no time period in which the boat isn’t covered. This is a very smart move. You should have requested insurance quotes before agreeing to the purchase to get an idea of the budget required to run the boat, so simply accept the best quote a few days before signing the bill of sale.
Unless you can keep the boat in your yard, you will need to store her somewhere. You could opt for keeping her at a marina or yacht club full-time, or store her in a boatyard for the off-season, which will save you a lot of worrying. Choose whichever option suits you and your circumstances best. For example, if you live in a hurricane or typhoon prone area, you’re better off hauling out at the end of the season.
Don’t delay this step, as boat facilities are often booked up many months in advance. Early bookings sometimes get a discount, too.
Fix her up
Next, it’s time to inspect her carefully to make sure everything is in working order. Whether she’s a new or used boat, there could be problems that weren’t evident when you had a look at her with the surveyor. Test everything on board to make sure it works and repair anything that isn’t working properly.
If you see anything old and beginning to corrode, swap it out for a new piece. Don’t wait for it to fail - it could happen at the worst of times. Don’t skimp on boat maintenance - a seaworthy boat will keep you safe in all circumstances. Having an experienced boat owner help you out is extremely useful.
This is also a chance to make any upgrades to suit your specific needs. For example, you could install a bigger bilge pump or solar panels.
Check the safety gear
If you bought a used boat, it’s important that you have a thorough look at the safety gear on board, as it could be broken or expired. For new boats, you’ll need to start from scratch.
Look up what safety gear you’re required to carry in your country and state. Each area will have its own requirements and specifications. You’ll need to have all necessary equipment fitted on the vessel before you take her out for the first time. Mishaps can happen any time, so it’s best to be prepared.
Get a license
You will have checked if you need a license or certificate of competency in your country before you purchased the boat. If you haven’t already started the course, it’s time to enroll.
While it’s perfectly legal to own a boat without having a license, it can take a while to study and pass the exam, depending on what’s required where you live. Don’t delay it any longer - get it done, so you can start going out on your pride and joy.
Download the Deckee app
Before going out on your boat for the first time, download the Deckee app from the App Store or Google Play. Check the marine weather forecast, look up points of interest, track and save your boat trips, file float plans, and more. On Deckee you will receive safety and weather alerts from maritime authorities, such as wind warnings.
The app will allow you to stay safe on the water while giving you access to useful information, such as fishing and diving spots, boat ramp locations, anchorages, speed limits, and more. If you’re in danger, you can use WhatThreeWords to communicate your position to rescue services easily and swiftly. Remember to couple Deckee with a chart plotter for safe navigation.
Now that your boat is ready to get out on the water, it’s time to learn the fundamental boat owner skills. Head over to this article to find out what you’ll need to focus on. Don’t just jump on your boat and start speeding around. Keep yourself, your crew, and other boaters safe. Act responsibly.