promotion image of download ymail app

As a beginner, how can I get started with boating with nobody to teach me?

I have no boating experience and don't know anyone who even owns a boat. I would like to buy a used boat on craigslist and start taking it out on the water but I'd really like to know what I'm doing and how to test out a boat before buying it. How can I get started with this and make sure I'm not overlooking anything?

6 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I suggest (before you buy anything, of course) you visit some Marinas in your area. But before you go snooping around, go introduce your self to the people that own or run the Marina and basically tell them what you just told us. With any luck at all, they will hook you up with someone that will give you an introduction to boats & boating.

    In addition, many Marinas off boating & sailing lessons. Usually an introduction lesson is either free or only cost a small "introductory" token fee ($20.00 or so).

    You don't mention a price range... but if it is a decent amount (say $10,000 or more) then if I were in your shoes - I would go to a "certified boat broker". You will have two BIG advantages in doing this... 1.) he (or she) will find you a good seaworthy vessel in your price range, and they will make sure it is a verifiable boat in good condition. 2.) he (or she) will also take you out in the boat and teach you how to run it, maneuver it in and out of docks, back it up, and all about how to check and maintain it.

    My son and I have sold several sailboats and powerboats (all live-aboard size vessels) and we always give the buyers as much time as needed to learn all they need to learn in-order to operate the vessel safely & professionally. Most often this just goes hand in hand as part of the sale. Course, we don't sell junk, and we don't want anyone to buy anything from us they are not completely happy with... So, whether it takes 2 or 3 days or 2 or 3 weeks, we spend what ever time is needed to make sure the buyer is happy, and our vessel is going to be well taken care of by its new owner.

    When it comes to boats (either sail or power) most boaters are more then eager to help new boaters get properly orientated to boating. We like to share what we know, and teach what we can, and most boaters (by far) are more then willing to give you their time and share their experience. But... you have to be honest and up front about everything. You know what they say about "it takes one to know one" and well, we can spin a yarn with the best of 'em... So, we can also tell when we are being told a whopper. lol

    If you go to a broker, you must be very honest with them about how much money you have to spend as a down payment, for monthly payments, and or total. They can also help you with estimating what your other costs will be, and working out a budget for you. In addition, if you want them to work for you to find you a boat... you "must" give them your total commitment. (In other-words, don't take up their time, and then go buy a boat on your own.)

    Assuming you are over 18, you can also simply go out and rent a boat. In this case, tell the boat rental place you know nothing about them... They will show you and give you enough practice time that they are convinced you can handle the boat safely, before they step off the boat and hand you the keys...

    Finally, it is never too early for you to start taking your boat safety courses. Even if you are of age and live in a state that does not require it... you need to study the boating laws, rules of the road, and all thing related to boat safety.

    You have a lot of options here... So, you can do it...

    Happy & Safe Boating,


    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    Your best introduction would be to hire a small motor cruiser for a week on an inland lake or waterway, and along with this also hire a dinghy. For sailing, or just for rowing.

    The type provided will be very easy to sail, with a so called standing lugsail rig, if you chose a sailing craft that is.

    You will learn to sail; row; moor up, and possibly negotiate tides and bridges and otherwise handle the two vessels in a very short period of time. And you will have a thoroughly enjoyable time too.

    Then you will be in a much more elevated position to decide on where to go from there - from your own experience and point of view, yourself.

    If you like boating and want to get afloat, it is always great to have access to a robust little dinghy in which to go for a row on the river. Be sure and get a good quality buoyancy aid (lifejacket) for you and each of your crew, if any. And if you get a sailing dinghy, be sure that it has so called built-in buoyancy. So in the hopefully unlikely event that it capsizes, it will not sink.

    But make no mistake about it: there are very few boat owners indeed who actually get to spend much time aboard their boats! The boat will in almost all cases be costing you some sort of money whether you use it or not, so it is almost certain that not only will hiring one occasionally be a whole lot cheaper, you will have a much nicer vessel to enjoy when you do have time to go boating.

    And no maintenance or repair work to do.

    So, judging from your subtext, get a robust little rowing / sailing dinghy, an appropriate number of decent lifejackets, (I use Seago automatic gas inflation 175 Newton - very light, unobtrusive, comfortable and professional - about £70 each from yacht chandlers, less on the www), two sets of oars and a very small outboard if you want. (The sort that has a fuel tank built in - 2 hp).

    Put it all on a little trailer you can tow behind your car, or just pay a small sum to keep it in a boatyard or on a foreshore - seek permission for this - or keep it in your garden with a wheel clamp on it. Etc.

    Stay safe, watch the weather forecast and tides (flood-tides are safer than ebb-tides because they bring you in, as opposed to take you out. And they get you off, as opposed to putting you on, the mud!). Avoid going out in strong wind, always have more than one means of propulsion on board and keep warm. It's colder on the water than on the land.

    Go for it and the best of luck.


    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    You can email me and I'll give you the info that you need. I'll go with you to inspect and test the boat if you're in the SF Bay Area.

    Source(s): 40+ yrs boating experience, Boating Safety Instructor, member of United States Power Squadron, owner of 60' motor yacht and 26' Express Cruiser
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 10 years ago

    See if the Coast Guard Axillary has courses or any other group. Hit the used book store and get all the book and boating.Remember safety first.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    power squadrons hold classes on boating. everything you need to know. also log on to Discover Boating .com.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    take a class.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.