Tips for Snowbird Boaters – If you’re a snowbird (someone who lives in the North and travels to the South for winter) who loves boating, the winter months are just as exciting as the summer. The thrill of exploring new waters, while the rest of your friends are stuck with snow and ice, is particularly enjoyable. Cruising in your Crownline during January is something that every boater needs to try at least once. Of course, boating in new locations can be a little complicated. There are different laws and cultures and unfamiliar docks and marinas, so it’s wise to do some research and preparation before heading south. Here are a few tips and recommendations for your future snowbird travels.
Research Local Laws
The majority of the rules and regulations are going to be pretty similar from place to place, but every now and then you may encounter a strange local law that could wind up costing you a hefty fine. Do yourself a favor and read up on local statutes, ask friends in the area for recommendations and tips, and get a boating license if you need one. Making assumptions tends to get people in trouble, so it’s best to learn everything you can and follow the rules.
Get a New Trailer or Make Sure Yours Is in Good Condition
A good trailer is vitally important. Chances are you got one when you purchased your boat, but you’ll need to perform a complete inspection before you take it on a long drive. Here’s a good article about inspecting and maintaining your trailer. If there are a few problems, get them fixed. If there are many problems, it may be time to invest in a new model. Talk to your boat dealer or mechanic for tips on finding the right trailer that fully supports the length and width of your boat. Options include bunk or roller, hydraulic or non-hydraulic, and single or tandem-axle styles.
Take Things Slow When Boating Someplace New
Boating in a new location is an adventure, so it’s a good idea to take it easy the first couple times you go out. Stay slow and appreciate the new surroundings while learning the nuances of the local waterways, weather and marinas. And be sure to use a detailed GPS or map of your location.
Find a Marina You Trust
When searching for a good marina, consider location and price first, then look at online reviews (to be taken with a grain of salt), talk to your friends, and call the managers before making a decision. Your choice could be the difference between a relaxing winter and a stressful one, so don’t be afraid to go the extra mile.
Have All Your Emergency Gear and Procedures in Order
Always have an emergency radio on hand and tuned to the proper station. And make sure your first aid kit is in good condition with enough supplies for the number of people you plan to have on board. Get the U.S. Coast Guard Mobile App for access to great information, resources, and an assistance button that alerts the Coast Guard of your location in case of emergency.
Make Fun Plans for Your First Adventure
When boating in a new area, it’s always best to have a plan. From exploring all the hot spots and attractions to hanging out in a quiet cove, try something special your first time out and make new and exciting memories that will turn into great stories after you had back home.