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You're a Boat Owner: Now What?

Congratulations! You just bought your first boat! This is a big investment and an exciting accomplishment. There is nothing like the feeling of being out on the open water — especially when the boat you're driving is your own.

You're a Boat Owner: Now What?

That said, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. There are many things about being a boat owner that many people aren't fully aware of until they’ve bought a boat. Before you go out, though, you'll need to ensure that you and your boat are ready. Start with the following basics:

1. Get insurance.

When buying your boat, you need to make sure you get it insured. Boat insurance is really similar to auto insurance. It's essential because it protects you in case of any accidents or injuries that happen on — or as a result of — your boat. The average boat insurance cost per year is between $200 and $500 depending on your policy.

2. Learn how to trailer your boat.

Trailering your boat is another important thing to understand when you buy a new boat. The towing capacity needed for a boat is around 10,000 pounds. Your owner's manual will clarify how much weight your vehicle can pull; Kelly Blue Book offers a great calculator to use to determine this. Most small cars can tow up to 2,000 pounds. Mid-size cars can tow up to 3,500 pounds, mid-size SUVs can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and full-size SUVs and trucks can tow between 9,000 and 20,000 capacity, depending on the equipment used.

3. Learn how to launch your boat and retrieve it.

Launching and retrieving your boat is a skill in itself, and it’s good to practice a few times before hitting the water. We suggest going during an off-time when the marina isn’t super busy. Practicing a few times will make it less stressful when you go to launch for the first day out on the water. Also make sure that you understand boat ramp etiquette so that you can help make your launch and retrieval seamless.

4. Familiarize yourself with maintenance requirements.

To ensure that your boat has a long and healthy life, maintenance is key. Understand the maintenance protocols for taking your boat out on the water and any maintenance you need to do before storing it for the winter. You’ll want to make sure you know how to check the engine oil, what the best fuel for boats is (hint: you don’t want to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol, known as E10), how to clean your boat, how to check for damages, how to check the fuel lines, how to store the propeller, how to lubricate grease points, and how to drain water and fuel after each outing. You can contact the service department at Ed Watkins Marine with any maintenance questions!

5. Master your water operating skills.

When buying a boat, your dealer will typically show you how to operate the boat and might even take you out on the water so that you can familiarize yourself with everything. You will also need to get a boating license, which will include a boating education course and a boater safety course. 

6. Practice safe boating.

And finally… practice safe boating! Being safe on the water requires being comfortable at the helm of your boat, being comfortable trailering your boat, and being comfortable launching. You should also make a boat safety checklist that helps you ensure you have all of the proper safety equipment on your boat and tells what to do in case of an emergency.

Becoming a boat owner is an exciting accomplishment, and we can’t wait for you to get out on the water! By following our tips for what to do after your boat purchase, you’ll be a boating expert in no time. To learn more about your new boat or about buying a new boat, contact your local water experts at Ed Watkins Marine today!