Thousands of people would agree that there’s no feeling quite like cruising on the open road – driving with no true destination. Those people clearly never experienced small boat cruising.
Similar to the freedom felt when driving along the open road, small boat cruising is equal parts peaceful and adventurous. Whether you’re an angler at heart, an avid swimmer, or merely enjoy being a boat captain, this article is for you!
Keep reading to discover the ultimate guide for small boat cruising from safety and maintenance tips to advise on different ways to enjoy the open seas.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
What Is Small Boat Cruising?
Before we get into the do’s and don’t’s of small boat cruising, it’s important to define it. While the definition of cruising may vary from one captain to the next, one thing most can agree on is that cruising entails traveling on a boat for an extended period of time.
In most cases, this could be several days to weeks. The captain and passengers live on the vessel, using it as a means to reach a specific destination.
Because of this, boat captains must consider several factors before departing from food and fuel sources to safety and other essentials.
Best Vessels for Cruising
If you’re interested in this type of aquatic adventure, you’ll want to choose the right boat. The most common boat used for small boat cruising is a sailboat. But motorized boats are another popular choice.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right vessel for your journey.
Believe it or not, when it comes to small boat cruising, the smaller the better. Choosing an oversized vessel that’s difficult to handle will make your experience more stressful and less enjoyable.
Consider how many people you’re traveling with, the distance you’re going, and what supplies you need. Then, choose a boat that fits these needs.
And don’t forget, a bigger boat means a bigger price tag in terms of rental and docking fees and fuel.
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Distance and Destination
The next thing to consider before open boat cruising is exactly how far you’re traveling and what route you’ll take.
While a small vessel might be more manageable, it’s not suited for long trips across vast oceans. What happens if you experience a storm or choppy seas?
A small boat is easily tossed around, increasing your risk for injury and even capsizing. If you plan to travel long distances, invest in a larger, sturdy boat that makes you feel safe and comfortable.
Other questions to ask include how far you’ll be going and how long it’ll take you. These questions are important when checking the weather over the course of your trip.
Determine if you’re entering a region during hurricane season. Check the winds and weather patterns. This alone might determine your departure date and how you plot your course.
Lastly, you need to consider how many people will be traveling with you and if you’ll be the only captain. If so, you need to meet certain qualifications.
Not only should you feel confident in manning the vessel solo, but if you plan to do so, many countries require adequate training and credentials (see https://study.com/articles/Become_a_Boat_Captain_Step-by-Step_Career_Guide.html). And chances are, anyone on board will want to feel confident in your abilities as well.
Safety While Boating
When it comes to small boat cruising, safety is paramount. We already discussed choosing the right vessel, getting proper training, and paying close attention to the weather.
But there are many other ways to ensure you and your passengers remain safe on the open seas.
Avoid Known Risks
If an area of travel is particularly treacherous, it’s best to avoid it. Are boats known to bottom out, crash into the rocks, or get stuck in a certain region? Is a specific stretch of open water subject to piracy and refugees?
Avoid putting yourself into a dangerous or precarious situation – especially if it can be avoided. Do your research before heading out. Talk to fellow boaters and read blog and reports.
If you ever unknowingly find yourself in a dangerous situation, here are a few ways to protect yourself:
- Communicate with another vessel on your radio to show potential invaders that you’re not alone. If there are no other boats nearby, pretend you have someone on the line who is nearby.
- Carry a firearm or other weapon (but only if you’re completely comfortable and confident using it)
- Don’t stop or interact with unknown or suspicious boats
It’s also recommended you keep emergency numbers, radio coordinates, and maps on hand to avoid dangerous encounters.
General Safety Tips
Aside from these extenuating circumstances, there are several basic boating safety tips captains must follow to ensure safe small boat cruising.
Before departing, always perform an overall safety check of the boat. This means checking food and water supplies, the number of lifejackets on board, fuel levels, and all other necessary supplies.
Make sure your vessel is checked by a mechanic and that all parts are in proper working order. This includes the motor, sails, anchor, and GPS.
Always lock your boat and haul your dinghy onboard at night or anytime you leave the boat. Never leave the boarding ladder extended overnight and secure all other lose or valuable parts.
Many boat captains bring a small safe onboard for storing valuable personal items. Don’t keep all of your cash in one place. If you ever stumble upon robbers, you can give them one small stash of cash, knowing that you have additional resources hidden elsewhere.
Small Boat Cruising Isn’t for the Faint of Heart
While small boat cruising is a thrilling adventure, it also takes experience, care, and preparation.
With the proper training and knowledge, you can have an unforgettable experience on the open seas.
Looking for other ways to see and travel the world? Check out our blog for tips on where to go, what to do, and everything in between!