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Boat Ownership 101: A Complete Guide for First-Time Boat Owners

Written By: Peter Whiting

Buying a new boat is so exciting! It's also a little overwhelming. New owners have to decide where their boat will be stored, what accessories they need to stock on their boat, and make a plan for maintaining their new boat. Understanding basics like navigation will ensure that outings on the new boat will be fun and safe for everyone!

Boat Storage

There are a few different options for boat storage. Some owners choose to leave their vessel on its trailer in their driveway. Be aware that not all localities or homeowners associations allow boats to be left in driveways long-term. People with garages may choose to use those for their boats. Another option is to rent a self-storage unit and storing the boat there in the off-season. The other choice is renting space in a marina. There, owners can choose between having a permanent slip or using a dry dock service.

Insuring Your Boat

All boats should be insured. Insurance protects owners from any damage to their boat, and also protects them in case they are liable to damage to another boat, someone's property, or any injuries sustained by someone on or by their boat. Basic boat insurance resembles the average car insurance policy. There are also specialized policies and add-ons that make sense for some owners. For example, a policy with a fuel-spill clause protects owners in case their boat accidentally discharges fuel or oil into the water. It also covers costs if the boat sinks. Those planning on towing their boat should make sure their policy covers the boat trailer. People who will use their boats in international waters also need a special policy. Owners with umbrella coverage will need to check with their insurance agent to make sure the boat policy follows the requirements of the umbrella policy.

Boat Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Anyone driving a boat should avoid drinking alcohol or partaking in any substances that may impair their ability to drive the boat safely. Driving a boat is a serious business and should be treated as one. It's important to understand all laws and regulations governing the waterway where the boat is being used. Basic rules include honoring no-wake zones and staying a safe distance from swimmers, other boaters, and all docks.

Must-Have Equipment and Tools

All boats need to have basic safety gear on board. For example, all boats need a sufficient number of life jackets for the number of people on board. Fire extinguishers must be on board all water-going vessels. New boat owners also need to make sure their boat has dock lines and fenders for when they tie up on a dock. An anchor, extra rope, and a knife also should be stored on board.

Maintaining and Repairing Your Boat

Much like automobiles, boats require regular maintenance to stay in proper working order. All powerboats require regular oil changes, having the gearcase lubricated, and propellers should be inspected when the oil is changed. Boats also should be winterized before being stored in cold weather.

Water Navigation

New boat owners must learn how to safely navigate their vessels. The first rule is that drivers of boats are responsible for avoiding collisions with other boats, yachts, jet skis, kayaks, swimmers, etc. Along with paying attention while driving, it's also important to maintain distance and only stay at a safe speed for current conditions. It's best practice to have a paper map of the waterway on the boat. Today, there are also many apps available to help boaters navigate.

Planning Successful Boat Outings

The first step to having a great afternoon on the boat is preparing the vessel. Make sure there are enough life jackets on board, a map of the waterway, and a first aid kit with all basic supplies. Packing a cooler with drinks in plastic bottles and snacks helps ensure a fun afternoon! It's also important to make sure there's a way to collect trash. Guests should be told basic safety rules they are expected to follow on the boat.

Contact Seattle Yachts

Our experienced sales team is standing by to answer your questions, no matter where you boat.

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Pacific Northwest


Shilshole Marina

7001 Seaview Ave NW, Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98117

(206) 789-8044

Cap Sante Marina

1019 Q Avenue, Suite A&B

Anacortes, WA 98221

(360) 299-0777

Marine Parts / Service Center

2915 W Avenue

Anacortes, WA 98221

(360) 293-3145



Sun Harbor Marina

5060 N Harbor Dr, Suite 155
San Diego, CA 92106

(619) 523-1745


Marina Village Yacht Harbor

1070 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 109
Alameda, CA 94501

(510) 227-2100

Marina del Rey

13900 Marquesas Way, Suite 6002
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

(310) 827-2567

East Coast


Fort Lauderdale

1535 SE 17th St, Suite #103B
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

(954) 797-0030

Safe Harbour Old Port Cove

116 Lakeshore Dr.
North Palm Beach, FL. 33408

(561) 577-6890

Annapolis Harbor

7350 Edgewood Road
Annapolis, MD 21403

(410) 397-7323

Virtual Brokerage Office

(954) 612-8272



Virtual Brokerage Office