Better Boat Handling Tips

photo credit: mgrabski via photopin cc

Just like mastering any skill improving your ability in handling boats will take patience and practice. Reading about it can only take you so far, but that does not mean that it isn’t just as important. Knowing how to handle situations in theory gives you the confidence to tackle them in practice. However there is no magic code or perfect guide that will have you whizzing around like a pro.

Fortunately we’re here to help with some advice gathered from years of experience. Take a few minutes to absorb this because you might be surprised – whether you are a beginner or a captain you never stop learning.

1. GET TO KNOW YOUR VESSEL – It is key to understand how your boat reacts to your commands. Not all boats are the same! The same principles may apply but the size, weight, power and manoeuvrability of the boat dictate the effectiveness of handling, so dedicate time to get to grips with your vessel. Approaching, controlling stoppage, evading and orbiting objects such as liferings and buoys are some safe and effectual boat handling practice exercises.

2. KNOW YOUR LIMITS – You must learn to walk before you can run. It is vital to understand your own limits as a pilot so not to land yourself and/or others in trouble. It is also equally important to understand the limitations of your vessel and your crew. Methodically testing (from ‘easy’ to ‘advanced’), challenging and tracking your ability regularly in safe, open waters is fundamental to your progression. Do not jump in at the deep end!

3. RULES & REGULATIONS – Knowing when you are right or wrong is the only way to learn from your mistakes, and there will be some! Do not cut corners and your mind will be at rest and you will have the confidence to set sail without worry. Keep up to date with and regularly revise the current rules, regulations and restrictions affecting you. Undocking, maintenance and docking are just some procedures that have specific rules. Preparation is paramount!

4. THE ENVIRONMENT – The sea can be a treacherous place and is not to be taken lightly. Weather conditions can change rapidly. As a beginner, aim to only practice in perfect conditions i.e calm, clear days in open waters with little obstacles. It may sound obvious, but lots of people do get caught out. As you advance, challenge yourself to handling a boat in conditions such as rain, wind and fog. Of course, be sensible about it and don’t go out in a storm. The true test of a good seaman is handling tough conditions appropriately and effectively.


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