How to Prepare for a Weekend on the Boat

people on sailing boat

Boating weekends have the potential to be relaxing, fun, and rewarding – but only if you’re prepared. Otherwise, you could run out of crucial supplies or end up in a dangerous situation.

You might have a lot of fun improvising and goofing around during your weekend on the boat, but it’s important to spend the days leading up to that voyage adequately preparing for it.

Check Your Experience Level

First, be honest about your experience level and be prepared to compensate for it. Have you driven your vessel on long trips before? Do you feel competent handling any maintenance issues that might arise during this trip? If you're completely new to the world of boating, it may be valuable to bring along somebody who is more experienced or bring extra supplies and resources just in case something goes wrong. If you're not feeling confident about your abilities, consider taking a weekend trip close to home.

Watch the Weather

No matter how much experience you have, it's important to watch the weather in the days leading up to your weekend trip. If a sudden storm begins to develop, or if wind speeds grow too high, it could compromise the safety of your trip.

A light sprinkle of rain shouldn't stop you from enjoying yourself, but it's a bad idea to push through your plan in spite of bad weather. If you start noticing signs that the weather could turn dangerous at any point, be prepared to cancel your trip and reschedule it some other time.

Put Together a Float Plan

A float plan is basically a document outlining where you plan to go, who is going to be on board, and other details of your journey. You can officially file one of these documents; that way, if you get lost at sea or if something goes wrong with your vessel, the authorities will be able to review the documents and hopefully find you faster.

For a weekend trip, most people won't need to file a formal float plan. But it is a good idea to at least tell someone what you're doing and where you're going. For example, you might tell your neighbour that you are going on a weekend trip and you're planning on being back Monday; if you're not back, they can notify the authorities about your direction and put together a search.

Research Your Stops and Destinations

Before embarking, make sure you research your stops and your destinations. Different areas have different regulations for anchoring and docking, and it also pays to research potential sites, restaurants, and other attractions in each area. You don't have to go crazy here, but you should have at least a preliminary understanding of everywhere you plan to be during this weekend trip.

While you're researching places to stop, this is a good opportunity to evaluate your anchor. Make sure you have an appropriately sized anchor and adequately long chain to attach it to your boat.

Go Through Your Safety Checklist

During a weekend trip, safety is even more important. You'll want to make sure your boat is stocked with all the supplies you need to get through multiple days of seafaring. These supplies should include:

  • Lifejackets. Make sure you have a well-fitted life jacket for every single person on board. In some areas, this is a legal requirement. You should be wearing your life jacket at all times while on the boat, and it's especially important for children to wear their life jackets in case they fall overboard. Do a quick inspection to make sure they're still intact and working properly before you leave.
  • Lights. Depending on where you're going to stop for the night, it may be vital to have operational lights on your vessel. Check the brightness, placement, and operational condition of all your lights before following through on your trip plans.
  • Radio. Install a VHF radio and make sure multiple people on board know how to use it. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with emergency broadcast regulations in your area – and have a backup plan in case your main source of power fails.
  • Flares. It hurts to have a handful of flares on board so you can signal for help if you're lost at sea or if you run into other issues.
  • Fire extinguisher. Fire may not seem like a big concern when you're in the middle of the ocean, but an unexpected maintenance issue could cause a fire to break out on board. That's why it's important to have a fire extinguisher at the ready.
  • A first aid kit. It's also important to have a fully stocked first aid kit on board. If somebody suffers an injury or some other kind of medical emergency, these materials could be exactly what they need to survive and begin recovery while you call for help.
  • A bailing device. Make sure your vessel is equipped with a bailing device that can help you remove water in an emergency.
  • Flashlight. Keep a flashlight nearby so you can see clearly even at night.
  • Extra batteries. Extra batteries for your flashlight, your VHF radio, and grow other electronic devices will ensure they remain powered and operational even during an emergency.
  • Food and water. Make sure to bring plenty of water and food rations for everyone on board for several days – much longer than your outlined travel plans.

Set Expectations with Your Fellow Travelers

Finally, start setting expectations with your fellow travellers, especially if you're travelling with young children or if you're going to be with people who have never been on a boat before. It's important to educate these people on the basics of boat safety and let them know what your overall plan is going to be.

Proactive communication is vital to ensure that everyone on board is safe, that they understand the rules on your boat, and that they have the greatest possibility of having a good time during this voyage.

Are you eager to have your first weekend aboard a boat of your very own? Or have you been looking for a reason to upgrade your current vessel? At TheYachtMarket, we have thousands of boats to choose from. Browse our selection of new and used boats for sale today!

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