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Planning a Boat Vacation

Posted by Mike Watson on 06/11/2023
plan a boat vacation

Here are the key tips for planning the perfect boat vacation. From choosing the right vessel and route, to safety, and packing essentials. It’s to make sure you have fun boating activities.

1. Choosing Your Boat

Selecting the right boat is crucial for your vacation. If you’re with a bigger group or family, consider a spacious yacht or a larger sailboat that offers comfort and room for everyone. These are ideal for longer trips where you might want more amenities like a kitchen or comfortable sleeping areas.

For smaller groups, like couples or a few friends, a smaller sailboat or powerboat is a great choice. These boats are easier to handle. They’re perfect for getting up close to nature, exploring shallow coves, and enjoying a more intimate experience.

Think about your activities too, like fishing or sunbathing, and choose a boat that suits your plans.

2. Planning Your Route

Pick a destination that excites you. Are you looking for peaceful beaches, vibrant marinas, or areas rich in marine life? Research to find spots that match your interests.

Once you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to plan your route. A good itinerary includes a mix of well-known attractions and off-the-beaten-path places. This way, you get a blend of experiences – from popular sights to hidden gems.

Remember, flexibility is key. The beauty of a boat vacation is in its freedom. You might discover a secluded bay that you want to spend more time in, or you might find that some places aren’t quite what you expected.

3. Safety First

Safety should always be your top priority on a boat vacation. Before heading out, it’s important to ensure that all safety measures are in place and that you’re prepared for any situation.

Here’s a list of safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Take Responsibility — As the trip leader, you’re in charge of everyone’s safety. Be confident and prepared to take full responsibility for the well-being of your passengers.
  • Plan a Safe Itinerary — Make sure your travel route is suitable for everyone on board. It should be safe, and enjoyable, and consider the preferences and limitations of your passengers.
  • Check Weather and Tides — Always be informed about the weather and tidal conditions. If you’re unsure about either, it’s better to play it safe and not venture out.
  • Know Your Chart — Familiarize yourself with the sea chart of the area you’re boating in. You don’t want to risk getting lost, so study the routes, landmarks, and navigational hazards.
  • Inform Someone About Your Trip — Always let someone onshore know about your travel plans. If there are any changes in your itinerary, make sure to update them.
  • Check Safety Equipment — Ensure that all your safety equipment is functioning properly, in good condition, and easily accessible on the boat.
  • Fuel Check — Before departing, check that you have enough fuel for the trip, considering both the planned journey and any potential unexpected detours.
  • Avoid Overloading — Be careful not to overload your boat with too many passengers or too much gear. This can affect the stability and safety of the vessel.

4. Packing The Right Stuff

Packing smart for your boat trip means balancing essentials with fun. For meals, pack a mix of fresh and non-perishable food, considering everyone’s tastes.

Remember, storage is limited, so choose items wisely. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and ingredients for simple meals. If fishing is on your agenda, you might even cook your catch!

Entertainment and essentials are just as important. Pack activities for everyone, like snorkelling gear, fishing rods, and inflatable floats for the water, plus board games and music for downtime.

When it comes to clothing, prepare for all weather: swimsuits, light clothes, a jacket, rain gear, and sun protection. Use waterproof bags to keep your gear dry and safe.

5. Staying in Touch

While the idea of completely disconnecting might be appealing, having a way to communicate is essential. Staying connected while on your boat vacation is important for safety reasons.

The primary method of communication while on the water is using a VHF (Very High Frequency) radio. This radio is essential for communicating with other boats, marinas, and emergency services. It’s crucial for getting weather updates, navigating through busy waterways, and calling for help in case of emergencies.

For non-emergency contact, consider options like satellite phones, which can be more reliable than the internet in remote areas. Using the internet should be your last resort due to its unpredictability on open waters.

Make sure everyone knows how to use the VHF radio and has a basic understanding of marine communication protocols. It’s a good idea for you to take a basic VHF radio course.

6. Staying Healthy

Make sure you drink lots of water and use sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned. Wear the right clothes for the weather – light stuff when it’s hot and something warmer if it gets cool. And don’t forget to rest enough; being tired can lead to mistakes.

Also, if anyone needs special medicine, don’t forget to pack it. Seasickness can happen, so it’s good to have some medicine for that ready, or even natural stuff like ginger.

Wrapping Up Your Boat Vacation

As your boat vacation comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the experiences you’ve had. Think about the beautiful places you’ve seen, the fun activities you enjoyed, and the new things you learned. Share your stories and photos with friends and family, and start thinking about your next adventure on the water.

In preparation for future trips, consider obtaining a skipper’s ticket if you haven’t already. This certification not only enhances your boating skills but also opens up more opportunities for different types of boating experiences.

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Mike Watson

Mike Watson, owner and operator of Sea Safe Boat School, has over 35 years of sea-going experience. Starting his maritime journey at 15 in Grimsby, England, he's sailed locations like Iceland and Greenland. Certified as a Master-5 Trainer, Mike is now dedicated to offering courses to those pursuing their recreational skippers ticket in Perth.