How to prepare for Boating Season

It wasn’t until I got married that I started to become a “boater”. My husband grew up on the water. He would fish with his Dad on local rivers and lakes in their fishing boat and as an adult, he has owned and operated a few different types of boats. When we met he had a ski boat which to me is the best kind! There were times growing up when we would get to go out on the water in friend’s boats and I remember LOVING it each time! My sisters and I always begged my Dad to get a boat and his response was always, “We have a pool, we don’t need a boat!” Little did I know that when he gave us the kid-friendly answer what he probably meant was we are too busy with sports on the weekends and maintaining and operating a boat is a ton of work!

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Boy have I learned now that boating is a lot of work but oh so worth it. Ok, it’s not that bad but, as a boat owner, you do have to maintain your boat and also know how to operate it in the water and navigate the marina to get it in and out of the water. As a diesel and marine mechanic, he knows how to work on boats and how to maintain them so we are lucky in that department. But for many other boat owners, you would need to make sure you take your boat in for service just like your vehicles. This way they operate smoothly and you don’t have to worry about problems on the water. Hubby’s word of advice, don’t wait until you are at the boat launch to turn your boat on for the first time. Check it before you leave the house.

Every day on my way to work I drive by this boat that is parked in front of this property, which looks creepily abandoned by the way. I’ve had my eye on it for the past couple of months because it has remained in the same spot with the cover blown halfway off in the exact same position for months! Now, if you are in the Sacramento area you know we have had a longer rainy season with a ton of storms this year so leaving your boat outside with the cover off to let in rain and debris is bad news. I always hope that when I turn the corner I’ll see something different. I can’t imagine the damage on the inside of that boat.

IMG_4569 Last week we spent the majority of our free time prepping our boat to get it water ready. First, we had to get it out of the backyard which was slightly complicated because it was behind our Cabover Camper. After playing “Shuffle the Toys” our boat was hooked up to the truck. We then took inventory of the things we needed to get for the new season and my husband fired her up for her seaworthy inspection.

What other things do you do to make sure you are going to be safe on the water? Also, what can you do to give you peace of mind during your boating adventure? First is getting your boat prepped and checked. Make sure your motor runs properly and she fires up. Second, you need to make sure you have life vests for everyone on board. Any child 13 and under must wear a life vest at all times when you are in the water. Inspect them to make sure they are still in good condition and still fit. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your insurance policy for your boat up to date.

When you own a boat you are not required to have insurance like you are when you purchase a vehicle. Yes, you have to register it but you aren’t required to provide proof of insurance. Unless it is required by a finance company. But let me tell you why having boat insurance is necessary. If you’ve read some of my other posts you maybe remember me stating why insurance exists. Insurance exists to protect against financial hardship. So if your boat were to be stolen, vandalized, damaged, etc and you didn’t have insurance you would be responsible for the full replacement and repairs on your own. Yes, a boat is a recreational extra, unless you live on your boat…which would be so cool, so having the additional money to make repairs and replacements may not be first on your financial to-do list and you may be ok not having the assistance of insurance to replace or repair it. Maybe boating isn’t your way to spend the whole summer so it wouldn’t be a hardship. But for others, it might be.

Not only would the insurance help protect against the repair/replacement hardship but it will provide bodily injury coverage should you be at fault in a boating accident. If you didn’t have coverage and you drove your boat into another boat and caused injuries you could be held liable for those injuries or possibly sued and may have to pay out of pocket. Boat policies can provide coverage for towing services, along with additional coverage towards personal property while on the boat. Maybe you are an avid fisherman and have all kinds of gear and equipment attached to the boat. Those things are expensive!

Boat policies can be relatively inexpensive compared to auto policies so they are worth checking out. They are also annual policies. Many of our customers want coverage only for the few months they take their boat out so they will activate a policy for only a few months then cancel it. When you cancel it you lose the coverage for theft and vandalism, if you purchased that coverage of course. You also want to make sure the value of your boat is accurate. Boats depreciate in value just like everything else so if you have restored it, added to it, updated it you need to provide your agent with those updates and correct value amounts. If you don’t and have a loss the insurance company may only give you a blue book value for your boat based off of the year make and model. Word of advice here is to read your policy to make sure you have the right coverage for YOUR boat and your needs.

As always, every carrier and every policy is different. If you have questions ask your agent if you want to make sure you have coverage. If you don’t have coverage and want to know what it would cost for you, call and get one. You may gain some knowledge and peace of mind for a summer full of boating! To sum up these tips I’ll give you bullet points. The best way to prepare for boating season is:

  • Inspect, inspect, inspect your boat and check your motor!
  • Make sure you have usable life vests for all onboard
  • Check your Insurance policy
  • Stay safe, have fun, oh and wear sunscreen!

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Finally, when boating you also need to have a certain amount of Etiquette! Dealing with a crowded marina can and will test your patience so be patient and wait your turn and follow the rules and flow of the marina. Manners people! Remember boating is supposed to be fun!

 

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