Moving to a new area and testing out the waters for the first time can be daunting. You can use your sight to stay in the channel, but what happens when you come upon a highly trafficked area? Or maybe you run into an area that looks quite shallow, which locals know has a shifting sandbar? It can be tricky figuring out new waters. Luckily we have some tips to help reduce some of this anxiety. Don’t get caught stuck on shallows, or anchored in an area you’re not supposed to anchor in!
Follow the Pros
Don’t try going off the beaten path and exploring right away. You need to familiarize yourself with this new territory and get comfortable with it first. A great way to prevent embarrassing and dangerous accidents or events that will force you to call a sea towing company is to follow everyone else. But take this tip with a grain of salt. You need to think that every boater out there is just as new as you. You wouldn’t want to follow yourself right now, would you? If you do plan to follow others, try to find charter boats or commercial vessels. These guys and gals really know their stuff, and you can be confident about that. But don’t plan to just follow these boats for your whole journey. You need to plan ahead and know just where you need to go.
Ask a Local
In your new area, try stopping by a bait and tackle shop or marina. If you have a destination in mind, ask those behind the counter if they have any boating tips for the area. You can also check local boating forums and post a question before you head out. People online are much friendlier than you might think. If you make some boating friends in the area, try heading out on their boat to get a feel for the water. Ask if they would want to come out with you and help you navigate the waters. Offering to buy them lunch or some beers always works well. Also make sure to grab a Waterproof Chart for the area you will be boating. Our charts contain a ton of local knowledge to help you better navigate.
Make sure your boat’s VHF and GPS are functioning. In case of an emergency, you need to be able to give your location and hail down a passing vessel or Coast Guard on your VHF. Don’t rely solely on your cell phone, they can lose reception quite easily out on the water. Also make sure to have the number for a sea towing company. Not saying you will need it, but it’s handy and recommended to have.