Safe boating practices develop with experience

Learning to boat or sail is similar to learning to drive an automobile. Neither happens overnight.

Learning to boat or sail is similar to learning to drive an automobile. Neither happens overnight.

Learning to get around on the water can be exciting, but it can also be intimidating to take the helm of a boat for the first time.

Though beginners might be apprehensive when they first start to boat or sail, there are some tips that can make it a little easier for those new to captaining their own ship.

Start small – Much like teenagers learning to drive are often more comfortable learning behind the wheel of a compact car, boating beginners might be more comfortable learning to sail on a small boat. Smaller boats are easier to manoeuvre, making even the most nervous novice a little more comfortable.

Choose calm waters in which to practise – Though boating accidents in Canada have declined in the last few years, accident statistics illustrate just how dangerous it can be even for fully licensed and experienced sailors to operate a boat.

That said, beginners should always practise in calm waters that don’t boast big waves or lots of fellow boaters. This gives beginners the chance to learn the feel of the boat without the added pressure of handling choppy waters or traffic.

Read the weather reports – Veteran boaters struggle with inclement weather from time to time, so beginners should expect to struggle with adverse conditions as well.

But don’t be caught off guard by bad weather. Always check the weather reports before going out, and be sure to bring along appropriate attire and gear.

Don’t go it alone – Boating and sailing come with their own terminology, with which beginners are typically unfamiliar.

Before heading out on the water, learn as much of this terminology as possible, be it by studying manuals or books, or even asking experienced friends for help. When taking to the water, bring those friends along.

Respect other boaters – Boating is a hobby enjoyed by millions, and boaters should always respect that there are other people on the water as well.

Whether you’re out in the middle of the ocean or relaxing at the pier on your docked boat, respect other boaters by keeping the music down and always discarding trash in a responsible way.

Far too many boaters or passengers dump garbage over the side of the boat, so always be sure you and your passengers are respectful of Mother Nature and other boaters.