10 Common Boating Mistakes To Avoid

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How would you describe the ideal day on the water? It’s not too hot or cold for us, just perfect for family, fishing, and fun—all you need is a light jacket. 

But even when everything seems perfect, safety should always be top of mind for an enjoyable time on the water.

Let’s discuss some common boating mistakes to ensure you’re prepped so your next boating trip remains enjoyable. 

10 Common Boating Mistakes

1. Neglecting Regular Maintenance

Like your car, your boat needs regular attention to maintain good working conditions. Ignoring routine checks, such as inspecting the engine, hull, and other equipment for signs of wear and tear, can lead to unexpected breakdowns. 

Regular maintenance not only ensures your boat operates smoothly but also contributes significantly to your safety on the water.

2. Disregarding the Weather Forecast

The open water is notorious for its unpredictable weather patterns. Checking the marine weather forecast is, therefore, not just a suggestion but an absolute necessity. Being caught off guard by a sudden storm can turn a delightful day at sea into a dangerous situation.

3. Hitting the Dock

Docking might seem straightforward, but it can be quite challenging, especially for rookie boaters. It requires practice and precision to avoid hitting the dock or other boats nearby. When it comes to docking, try to line up your approach depending on wind direction or current, and remember going slow and steady wins the race.

4. Getting Lost

Whether you’re cruising inshore or offshore – always equip your boat with reliable navigation tools and familiarize yourself with how to use them. Knowing your bearings can make the difference between a fun outing and a stressful experience.

PRO TIP! Be sure to let someone know when and where you plan on going, as well as what time you expect to get back home before hitting the water in case an emergency arises.

5. Running the Engine Dry

An engine without water is like a fish without water – it won’t survive long. Starting your boat’s engine without adequate water can cause severe damage and overheating. So, always ensure that there’s enough water before you start the engine.

6. Having Your Engine Down While Trailering

Trailering with the engine down is akin to dragging an anchor – it can damage your boat’s engine. It’s essential to remember to raise the engine before trailering to prevent potential damage.

7. Not Putting in the Drain Plug

Overlooking the drain plug might seem like a small mistake, but it can have disastrous consequences. Your boat could fill with water and potentially sink. Make it a habit to double-check that the drain plug is in place before leaving the dock.

8. A Fishing Line Caught in the Prop

When fishing, be mindful of a fishing line getting caught in the propeller of your boat. This can result in significant damage to the prop and even lead to an accident. The line can cut through the prop seal, which can cause oil leakage and water infiltration, eventually resulting in the replacement of the entire lower unit. 

To avoid this, it’s important to exercise caution while casting and retrieving your line. If you do find that the line has gotten entangled in the prop, it’s best to remove it as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.

9. Going Over Capacity

Packing your boat with too many people or items can make it unstable and increase the risk of capsizing. Stick to your boat’s capacity limits to ensure a safe and comfortable ride for everyone on board. 

To find that information – check your boat’s capacity plate, which can be found near the helm.

10. Not Having Enough Gas

You never want to be driving on empty, and that rings true for when you’re boating too! Make sure to fill up on fuel before you hit the lakes, rivers, or open water. Unlike when you’re in your car, running out of gas in your boat is a little tougher to solve – so always be prepared.

So you’ve read up about the common boating mistakes to avoid, but sometimes those unexpected moments are inevitable. Even the most durable Skiff might need a helping hand on the water.

That’s where a Sea Tow membership can help. Learn more about this 24/7 “international marine assistance provider” that has become a trusted partner to boaters worldwide, as well as Carolina Skiff’s exclusive offer for captains like you! – 90 days of FREE Sea Tow coverage with the purchase of a Skiff!

At Carolina Skiff, building one of the best quality boats for a great price has always been our goal. Whether you’re looking for a recreational boat, fishing boat, runabout, or commercial/work boat, Carolina Skiff delivers the most in value, quality, and style. Find a Carolina Skiff dealer near you today. Did we miss any common boating mistakes? Let us know what you’ve learned firsthand here.