10 Great Boating Tips for Beginners

Best Boating Tips for Beginners

For complete beginners, boating can be an overwhelming prospect. The monetary aspect is part of it, but what it really comes down to is ingratiating yourself to another "culture" (for lack of a better word).  

Sailing represents one of the oldest facets of an advancing civilization and can certainly mean a bit of culture shock for newer sailors.

We have compiled 10 great boating tips for beginners that will start you off on the right foot and ensure that, even if you look a little green, nobody will ever know it is your first day on the water.

Previously I published an extended sailing preparation checklist, but even if you're just spending the day, these are some great boating tips to keep in mind.

Sun Ain't Fun

Without a doubt, you're going to need protection from the sun. This applies especially on the water because you're getting hit with UV from two directions at once. The most obvious rays are coming directly from the sun, but UV reflected from the water can cause a sunburn just as quickly.

Your boat isn't as sensitive, but you can protect it with our marine polish with carnauba wax and boat cleaner wipes with UV protectant.

Boating Tips for Beginners boat sun sail window porthole

Always Overdress

Clothing will help keep you safe from the sun, but having too much or too little can mean a very uncomfortable trip. It's much easier to strip off an extra layer or two than it is to go ashore and grab your favorite sweater.

Even if you're sweating on the shore, conditions on the water can be extremely different.

Check the Weather

Check the weather early and often, and don't be scared to cancel a planned voyage. This has little to do with clothing/sunshine and everything to do with the safety of yourself and your crew.

You'll be happier (and safer) staying ashore and wishing you had gone than you would be taking the trip and wishing that you had stayed.

Know the Tides

Another great boating tip that I don't see utilized often is to know the timing of the tides. Technology is a boon that means you don't need to be an old salt to know when an inlet is safe or not.

Running aground does not make for a fun outing. There's no excuse, as a quick Google search will detail all that you need to know.

Boating Tips for Beginners tide rocks

Hold Tight

"One hand for you, one hand for the boat." This simple phrase has stood the test of time for good reason. Regardless of the weather, always keep one hand on the boat.

This is a great boating tip for beginners and everyone else. Keeping yourself upright is necessary and it isn't easy on the water. One tumble is all it takes for an unwanted dip in the big blue. 

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Keep a Log

Keeping a sailing log is a fantastic boating tip for beginners. This can quite literally save your life. A ship's log serves as a fuel record, maintenance schedule and itinerary.

You can make notes about the times for high and low tide that you Googled earlier. Additionally, your log can also act as a sailing journal. There are many tiny details about every single adventure that I wouldn't remember otherwise. I'm so glad I have it all written down.

Stay Oriented

One of the best boating tips for beginners is something that I had a lot of trouble with when first starting out. The ocean can be a great big playground if you know where you are, but realizing that you're lost can be terrifying.

Know your sailing GPS unit inside and out, pay attention to landmarks and always keep a watch on your headings.

Boating Tips for Beginners fog worst

Prepare for the Worst

Practice makes perfect, and running drills isn't only for school kids and firemen. If you have a smaller sailboat, you should attempt to practice capsizing and righting it in a controlled environment. This ensures that if a similar situation ever presents itself your muscle memory will kick into action. Practicing like this will save lives.

Safety Equipment

When you're shopping for a life jacket, pick one that you actually like. You'll be much more inclined to wear it everywhere.

Stick your phone and keys into a waterproof container or plastic bag just in case they end up going overboard.

Charge your VHF and ensure all of your safety and monitoring equipment is calibrated and ready for action. That includes your ship's airhorn!

Backup Plan

This boating tip for beginners can apply to any aspect of your life. If you're going somewhere, let someone know!

A sailing float plan includes a description of your boat, who's on board, a description of the safety equipment you're carrying, where you expect to be and when you expect to be there.

If you don't arrive by a specified time, your float plan can advise others of what actions they need to take.


The secret ingredient to any successful voyage is preparation. Once you've ensured that your equipment is prepared you can spend your time on the water simply enjoying the moment. These boating tips for beginners are only a drop of the information that is out there.

Some sailors will guard their nautical secrets closely, but the vast majority are more than willing to share what they've learned. Find one of the friendlier groups and stick with them. The only thing that's more enjoyable than boating is doing so with good friends!

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