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Scott Huntington

How to Explore Yosemite

By | Hiking | No Comments

Natural beauty doesn’t get much better than Yosemite National Park in California. As the gateway to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite Valley is famous for its striking peaks and idyllic waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities, but keep in mind, the timing of your visit is essential. For instance, winter weather can close off portions of the park, but also presents the opportunity to take in the splendor of Yosemite in the snow.

There’s enough to keep you busy in Yosemite for weeks, but this guide will focus on the highlights and more accessible perks the park has to offer for new visitors.

Getting to Yosemite

The countryside in and around Yosemite is spectacular. Getting the most out of your visit should include a scenic drive along California’s Highway 140, which starts in El Portal and winds through the quaint town of Mariposa. You’ll enjoy redwood-lined highways and views of the Merced River. In Mariposa, you can breathe in a tiny village that has resisted change for many years and visit local historical museums. If you love exploring dirt trails, this area offers superb off-roading, but not in Yosemite itself.

Top Sights and Experiences

Depending on how long you’ve got to spend, there are so many impressive sights and things to do in Yosemite National Park. Guided tours, hikes, climbs and camping are some of the most popular ways to spend your time in the expansive Yosemite Valley. A word to the wise: If you’re planning to visit during the summer, you’ll be fighting crowds and will not be able to do as much, so consider visiting during the “shoulder season” in spring or early winter. If you enjoy the snow, go for a full-on winter trip, but be aware parts of the park may be off-limits.

Waterfalls are some of Yosemite’s primary attractions. Highway 41, which runs through the park, will take you past one of the most majestic of them all, Bridalveil Falls, as well as Half-Dome, the rounded granite peak that is Yosemite’s most recognizable feature. Ribbon and Horsetail Falls are equally impressive, though they can be seasonal. Many of the hiking trails around the park will take you to scenic vantage points where you can watch the falls and take pictures.

Yosemite’s wildflowers make for wonderful viewing in the springtime, and if you’re lucky, you can see the natural phenomenon of a moonbow, which happens when light reflects off the mist from the waterfalls. The valley’s many simple campsites and cabins offer you the opportunity to spend a night in Yosemite Valley and experience these special moments. In the morning, you can rise and if the timing is right, possibly catch Yosemite’s famous Firefall, an effect created when the light on Horsetail Falls makes it look bright orange like liquid magma.

With so much to do, you owe it to yourself to spend at least a few days in this place of natural splendor. But even if you don’t have time to do that, you can experience a glut of once-in-a-lifetime scenery at the Ansel Adams Gallery. There, you can purchase pieces by the legendary wilderness photographer, whose name is honored with a section of land that spreads through the park. It’s a place everyone should see, so plan your trip today!

How to Teach Your Kids About Survival

By | Survival | No Comments

Life in the 21st century is pretty cushy. For many families, survival training just isn’t a priority. Food comes wrapped in plastic, we have machines that make sure the temperature is always agreeable and when it rains, we just head on indoors and reach for the remote control to watch television.

With all of these luxuries in place, it can be easy to get lazy when it comes to basic survival skills. However, kids can still get a lot of value from learning a few important outdoor survival techniques. It’s a good way to put them in the mindset of caring for themselves, and it doesn’t hurt if they get a little fun out of trying new things they’ve only seen in Hollywood movies.

Cooking Their Own Meals

When you think about survival, this probably takes on the image of a squirrel roasting over a pile of sticks. Your kids don’t need to get that extreme just yet, but helping them take ownership of meal preparation when they get home from school is a great first step and a way to introduce the concept of self-reliance. Maybe it begins with making a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Later on, you can teach them to cook over a grill or on a camp stove in the wilderness.

Building Shelter

Creating shelter is one of those skills that you can learn when you’re young and carry with you for decades. Besides, what’s more fun for a child than finding just the right materials and creating an amazing fort? Basic shelters like a lean-to or an easy-to-set-up tent can make all the difference in a wilderness situation where inclement weather or getting lost leads to dangerous outcomes.

Of course, your child shouldn’t be subject to this type of situation until they are old and mature enough to set out on a wilderness adventure. However, practicing their skills will make them that much more proficient when the day comes. When your family goes on a hiking trip, take the time to get your kids involved in building shelter. Eventually, these things will become second-nature.

Finding Water

When you’re lost in the wilderness, lack of water is a much deadlier situation than lack of food. It only takes three days to die of thirst, so practice finding streams and small bodies of water with your children — both when they do and don’t have maps and GPS equipment. Just finding water isn’t enough, though. Make sure you teach your kids you’ve got to purify it to prevent illness from dangerous bacteria.

Your kids can learn to boil water if they’re old enough to use a basic camp stove. A gravity filter is another solution that provides great output in terms of the volume of clean water provided but doesn’t require much effort to use. Other methods include using purification tablets and learning to use an altimeter to derive whether a stream’s height makes it likely safe to drink from.

Making Fire

Of course, there are certain qualifiers for this lesson. Not every child is ready to jump into making fire, so let your kids grow into it. When they’re ready, it can be a fun and interesting exercise for the whole family. There are plenty of kits on the market that provide a flint knife anyone can learn to use fairly quickly. It’s not just a matter of making a spark, though — you have to understand how to correctly stack your logs and set tinder so that the fire will breathe and burn clean. Extra points if you can learn to build one in rain, wind or snow!

These are just the basics, but as we touched on earlier, practicing these basic skills will give kids a feeling of self-reliance and self-confidence they can find pride in. Teaching your kids about survival gives them both a great set of skills and fond memories of family time that will stick with them for years to come.

How to Heat Your House Without Electricity

By | Survival | No Comments

With the winter months behind us, you might be thinking more about your air conditioning bill than how to warm your home right now. If you’re living off the grid, however, keeping warm is a serious need in many parts of the world. The sun goes down and things get chilly.

Heating a living space has been a need since long before people had electric heat. In this article, we’ll explore several ways to sustainably heat a reasonable-sized living space using natural resources and no power.

Use a Wood Stove or Fireplace

This method is probably the go-to for most people, and for a good reason. Wood stoves were once a staple in nearly every home. These days, air quality laws have made it difficult for people to use wood-burning stoves in many places. However, in the wilderness, you would be wise to have one available and to take advantage of it when the mercury drops.

It’s entirely possible to heat a house built with proper insulation efficiently using a wood-burning stove. A quality fireplace or wood-burning stove not only adds a heating element, but it is also an aesthetic component in your home. Make sure you have an ample supply of dry firewood. Before winter arrives, it’s a good idea to stock up on an energy-dense wood like madrone, ash, maple or oak. Depending on your needs, you may want to select a hardwood that will burn longer, or a softwood that lights easier and burns hotter.

A High-Tech Take on Burning Wood

As an alternative to more traditional wood-burning methods, newer pellet-burning stoves can heat a space with a minimum of smoke and soot. Pellets provide consistent, even heat, and are available in hardwood or softwood varieties in 40-pound bags designed to provide one 24-hour day of heat. So you’ll not only enjoy an easy-to-use solution, but you’ll be able to calculate your heating costs with little effort.

Your Gas Stove or Oven

Have you ever cooked a meal and realized the temperature in your home increased five degrees? That’s because your stove or oven puts out a lot of heat, and if you have gas appliances, you can use these to heat your home without electricity. Of course, this is not the most efficient way to heat a large home, but in smaller spaces, it can be reasonably economical. Just make sure your insulation is well sorted out.

Speaking of Insulation

None of the methods here will do much if you have a home with no insulation and single-pane windows. None of the heat you produce will stay in the home without the help of some well-placed fiberglass insulation, weatherstripping and quality windows. If you know you have a specific part of the house that insulates well, you may want to declare that your warm room and focus your efforts on heating that space to maximize efficiency.

It’s not all that difficult to keep your home warm without electricity. Mostly, you’ve just got to be up to the task of chopping some firewood or hauling a few bags of pellets around. Maybe brush up on your flint-and-tinder skills before next winter, so you’re not reliant on those expensive firestarters. A quality hoodie doesn’t hurt either. Keep warm, friends!

How to Prep for Extreme Cold

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Climate change is altering our seasons. Summers are getting hotter, and winters are getting colder which means that we need to start preparing for extreme cold, especially if you live in a northern state. What do you need to do to make your home when, as Ned Stark so iconically stated, winter is coming?

Have Your Furnace Serviced

You’ll be relying on your furnace to keep you warm during the colder winter months, so the last thing you want is for it to break down when it’s below freezing.

Before temperatures start dropping, have your furnace inspected and if necessary serviced by a professional. A little bit of preventative maintenance can save you from freezing during the winter.

During the rest of the year, keep up with the essential furnace maintenance. Change out your filters, and check the visible portions of your furnace for any signs of problems that could take your heating unit offline when you need it the most.

Protect Your Pipes

The pipes that bring water into your home are probably the most vulnerable parts of your home when the temperature drops. Frozen pipes can crack, pouring icy water into your home and causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage.

Start by taking a close look at your exterior pipes and make sure that they’re all adequately insulated. Don’t forget to check the pipes in the unheated areas of your home, like garages and basements, which are just as vulnerable.

For exterior faucets and taps, remove any hoses and empty them before you store them for the season. Even if the valve is insulated, the tube is not and can freeze, causing damage.

Drop the Interior Temperature

When the mercury falls, it’s tempting to crank up the heat to stay warm, but this could lead to a furnace failure. Your furnace will have to work even harder to keep the interior warm, and it might not be able to keep up with the temperature changes. Drop the thermostat to 68 or below if you can handle the cold or don’t mind layering up to keep your furnace from burning out or driving up your electric or gas bill during the winter months.

Have a Backup Plan

Your furnace can only keep you warm while it has power or fuel, so if you run out of gas or the electricity fails you’ll need to have a backup plan to keep your house warm.

If you’ve got a fireplace, this can provide heat, but you need to make sure to have your chimney serviced before you need it. A clogged vent can be a fire hazard and can cause smoke to build up in your home.

Consider keeping a generator or two in your garage, and use those to power things like space heaters if the power goes out.

Of course, you also need to make sure you have plenty of warm clothes that you can layer up because if push comes to shove, that will be your best way to stay warm.

Stay Warm!

Once you’ve finished all your prep, all that you have left to do is sit back and enjoy the beautiful winter weather. Stay warm!

How to Use Trees for Survival

By | Survival | No Comments

Trees help you survive every day just by cleaning the air, but that’s not all they’re good for. With a little knowledge, they could also give you a lift in a survival situation.

You might know indigenous peoples relied on Earth’s arboreous inhabitants as sources of food and material long before you could enjoy a pair of nylon hiking trousers or a handy plastic-wrapped granola bar. Read on to discover exactly how you can take advantage of various trees while in the wilderness. You never know when you might need them.

Trees Provide Food

Even though you probably think of more commonly farmed plants as sources of food, trees also provide a number of products you’ve likely purchased at the grocery store. You can consume things like walnuts, pine nuts, syrup and —when processed correctly — several herbal and medicinal teas. Black walnuts, acorns, hickory nuts and pecans can all provide sustenance on the trail or in a survival situation.

You should be aware that specific tree nuts can be acidic, such as acorns. While they can be found throughout the American open space, you’ll need to rinse ground acorn meat in water to leach out the bitter tannin before consuming. Wild almonds contain cyanide and should be avoided unless you know how to prepare them for consumption. For a sweet treat, seek a mulberry tree and grab some juicy berries.

Tap Into Sap

In addition to the obvious nuts and berries, many trees are sources of sap that can be consumed or used for practical purposes. Maple sap, which you’ve probably eaten in the form of syrup, is easy to attain by boring a hole into the side of a tree. For easier access, insert a hollowed-out stick or length of tubing. Sap flows best on the south side of the tree, so see if you can orient yourself before making your tap.

Plant a Tree and Sustain Yourself

You probably won’t benefit from this if you find yourself lost in the woods, but if you’re the type of person who appreciates the ability to self-sustain, planting a tree is one of the best things you can do. It’s an easy job, and depending on the type of tree, it might just outlive you. You’ll be able to enjoy years of tree nuts, sap and other good things.

Many species of trees provide fibrous bark and branches that can be used to make basic tools and fabrics. The fallen leaves and bark can be used as compost and food for other plants. With a little work, you can even process raw bark into papyrus, a form of simple paper that has been in existence for thousands of years.

It’s no wonder people are so passionate about protecting our planet’s tree life. Trees are some of the plant world’s best and longest-lasting providers. Do some research and find out which types of trees grow in your area, and you might find a new survival partner.

How to Cook Over a Fire

By | Camping | No Comments

There’s nothing quite like cooking over the blazing flames of a campfire. Whether you’ve roasted marshmallows or charred hot dogs, they seem to taste a bit better when you fire them this way.

This food-preparation method appears to be pretty intuitive — you light a fire, then cook over it. But it’s not always that simple, especially if you plan to prep something more involved than a s’more. So, keep these five tips in mind before your next camping trip to ensure your campfire cooking pursuits are successful.

1. Wait Until the Fire is Perfect

As soon as you see orange, you might think it’s time to start cooking. However, the right fire for cooking requires some patience. In general, you want a base of smoldering coals with just a few logs on top to keep the flames burning. If your fire just started, you might have to wait anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes for it to calm down to cooking temperatures.

2. Don’t Rely on an Open Flame

That vision of roasting a marshmallow by plunging it directly into the pyre is a cooking method that works for that type of food only. The rest of your campfire-ready eats will require more careful preparation, or they’ll quickly burn and char. In many cases, you can place a camping grill over the flames, a perfect resting spot for burgers and hot dogs so they don’t touch the fire directly. The same goes for pots and pans in which you’ll heat up or cook meals. You can also set aside some hot coals over which to roast veggies or other roast-ready foods.

3. Planning Is Key

Even if you’re camping in the woods and therefore have trees and logs surrounding you, you might not be able to use any of them in your campfire. SSome campgrounds prohibit you from using the resources around you as kindling. So, be prepared and bring along high-quality firewood. Not only will this ensure you’ll have the resources to start a fire, but it’ll also make life so much simpler for you — these logs will easily and safely light up and burn for a long time. You’ll have plenty of time to cook your meals and stay warm around your campfire.

4. Build It Slowly and Steadily

Some fire-starters will dump all their logs into the pit at once and light them up. But this won’t start a sustainable campfire — it either won’t light, or it’ll burn out all of your resources rather quickly. So, pace yourself and build your fire correctly by using only a few logs with plenty of kindling beneath them. This method gives you a nice, hot base for your fire, and you can continue adding logs on top as you go to keep it burning. Plus, the temperature will remain steadier, making cooking simpler, too.

5. Add In Rest Time

Finally, you need to remember the foods you prepare over an open flame will cook at a higher temperature for longer. In other words, when you pull your foodstuffs out of the flames, they will continue cooking because they have taken in so much heat. So, take everything out just before you normally would if you were cooking with traditional appliances. Then, let your food rest and finish cooking. Finally, you can serve breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Campfire cooking is certainly an acquired skill, but these five tips will make it easier for you to become a skilled outdoor chef. And, with that, you’ll be eating well whether you’re at home or in the middle of nowhere with only a small fire to help you.

How to Build a Bunker

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Nuclear holocaust may not be the threat today that it was 50 years ago, but a well-stocked shelter is still one of the best preparations you can take against any major disaster. The sturdy construction and simple nature of these structures make them useful for a multitude of disaster situations, and while initial investment is high, a finished bunker provides peace of mind with relatively little maintenance.

Purchasing a prefabricated bunker might mean compromising on features and quality, and having someone build you one can get expensive fast. Consider undertaking a DIY bunker project — you’ll have full control over the costs and amenities, and as construction projects go, bunkers are relatively easy to build.

Choose a Location and Layout

Your bunker is a living quarter just the same as your above-ground home. If you’re building close to your home, there’s a good chance you’ll have infrastructure such as electrical lines and plumbing to compete with for space. Make sure to survey the area and choose a spot to dig where you have a good knowledge of what you’ll encounter underground. Also, make sure you’re legally permitted to begin the project. You may need to check your city ordinances or complete paperwork before beginning.

Smaller bunkers will only accommodate a bare-bones layout. However, if you have enough space, you can incorporate multiple rooms. You should create a blueprint that details the floorplan of your proposed shelter as you begin to identify the bunker’s infrastructure needs. How will you plumb the structure, provide access and even install things like cable and internet?

Breaking Ground

Now you’re ready to begin digging! You’ll want to rent an earth mover for this job unless your project is on a multi-year plan. Most people choose concrete as their bunker-building material because of its strength, molecular stability and low cost. You can use poured material — however, this can pose some challenges in an underground setting.

Concrete blocks make an excellent building material for bunkers because you can purchase them in several shapes and sizes, allowing you to construct virtually any basic structure with them. They’re also available hollow or solid, allowing you to add strength to the structure’s load-bearing walls. You should consider adding multiple passages from your home to your shelter, because in an emergency, relying on a single point of entry and exit could make a difference for you and your family.

Finishing Your Bunker

It might feel cool and comfortable now, but your bunker will quickly become stuffy and unpleasant without a steady supply of fresh air. You can’t leave the door open all the time, so most shelters use an air pump to pull fresh air down into the bunker and provide continuous circulation. The size of your shelter and number of people it needs to accommodate will determine what size air pump to use.

In addition to air, you’ll need to add water and electricity lines, internet and essential radio communications equipment. Finally, be sure to stock food and water ahead of time. In a crisis, you won’t have time to run to Costco. Make sure to supply the shelter with nonperishable items and fresh water, as well as water purification equipment. Keep a log of expiration dates so you can refresh your stores before they spoil.

It’s no small project, but in terms of being prepared, nothing will deliver more value than a well-planned shelter. It’s an investment in something you might not use, but if it gives you peace of mind, it’s well worth the spend.

How to Clean a Boat

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Cleaning a boat might seem kind of silly — do you need to clean something that spends all or almost all of the time in the water?

The answer is yes. Boats need regular cleaning to ensure barnacles and other oceanic life don’t cause damage to the hull. If you’ve never cleaned a boat before, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here are some easy steps to make your boat cleaning less of a hassle.

1. Get It out of the Water

Unless you’re secretly Aquaman or have gills, your first step will be getting your boat out of the water. The hardest part of the cleaning job stays hidden below the waterline, so to make your job easier, put your boat in dry-dock before you start your work.

For small boats, this is easy — drag it up onto the dock and flip it over. For larger vessels, you will need the assistance of a professional dock.

2. Rinse

You don’t generally want to wash your boat with the water it’s been sitting in, especially if you spend a lot of time in the ocean. Saltwater can cause a lot of problems for your vessel if you don’t take the right precautions.

Start by giving your boat a good freshwater rinse. This will knock off any loose debris and give you a better idea of how big a job this is going to be.

3. Start Scrubbing

This is probably the hardest part of cleaning your hull. If you spend a lot of time in the ocean or any salty body of water, you probably have barnacles growing on your hull and other portions of your boat. You’ll need a plastic putty knife to remove large barnacles, and a steel scrubber to get rid of smaller ones.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the barnacles, break out the soap and sponges and give the keel a good scrubbing. This part of the job is just like washing your car — add soap, scrub until clean and then rinse.

4. Clean the Deck

The keel of your ship isn’t the only thing that needs some attention during your annual deep clean. Make sure you clean the deck as well. Only use cleaning materials that are safe for your boat. If you’re cleaning an inflatable, for example, traditional cleaning products like bleach, acetone and ammonia can all damage the material.

Even if it doesn’t look damaged, using the wrong cleaning products could leave your deck’s surfaces more susceptible to salt or UV damage the next time you head out on the water.

5. Do Any Necessary Repairs

If you notice any damage to the hull or deck while you’re cleaning, this is the time to repair it. Don’t let minor damage become a big leak that will have you calling for sea rescue. Do the repairs now, or have them done professionally if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

Make sure you’re done with any necessary repairs before you move on to the next step.

6. Add a Coat of Wax

Once everything is clean, and you’re ready to head back out on the water, you’ve got one step left — adding a coat of wax to your keel. This works much like a wax coat does on the car in your garage, protecting the fiberglass beneath from water and sun damage. Break out a microfiber cloth or a buffing wheel for your power drill and go to town, making sure the entire vessel is coated from stem to stern.

7. Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Once you’ve finished all these steps, pat yourself on the back. All that’s left to do now is crack open a cold one and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In general, you only need to deep clean your boat once or twice a year, but pulling it up into dry dock once in a while to rinse it off and remove any barnacles can make your job more relaxed at the end of each boating season.

A Little Regular Cleaning Goes a Long Way

Even if your boat is in the water all the time, it will occasionally need to be cleaned. Set aside a day or a weekend to do the job right and keep your boat in top condition.

How to Go White Water Rafting

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The feeling of gliding over the water with the cool breeze blowing across your skin and the melodic movement of the waves beneath your raft is breathtaking. White water rafting attracts extreme sports enthusiasts and adventure-seekers all the time with its exciting rapids and wild nature. It’s relatively simple to do, and there are offerings all around the country. But if it’s your first time going white water rafting, here are some tips that can help.

1. Pick an Appropriate Trip

Some rafting adventures are more advanced than others, with larger rapids and waterfalls. Choose a course that you’re comfortable with and that meets your adventure level.

2. Wear Sunscreen

Being out on the water and under the sky for long periods puts you in sight of the sun at all times. Even if the sky is cloud-covered, sunburn happens. Packing sunscreen and applying it before you set out on the water will save you from burns and later discomfort.

3. Have the Proper Clothes

What you wear matters. You don’t need to buy a fancy wetsuit, but you shouldn’t just wear a swimsuit either. With water, there’s always the chance of getting wet, so you want to wear something that will fit under your lifevest and also cover the skin. Long- and short-sleeve tee shirts are always good options. Be wary of cotton though, as once it’s wet, it can take a long time to dry.

Sneakers work if you’re in a pinch, and they’re better than flip-flops, but the best footwear options are sand shoes and strapped sandals.

Sunglasses will shield your eyes from the sun, but they can also easily fall off. If you decide to bring sunglasses, make them a pair you’re okay with potentially losing.

Among all the questions people ask before going rafting, what to wear might be the most integral to your enjoyment on the water.

4. Balance Yourself in the Raft

To stay seated and balanced as the raft bounces over the waves, be mindful of your seating position. Your feet should be tucked under the side of the air tube that runs around the raft, and you should be sitting on the outer edge. Sitting this way will keep you and the raft balanced.

5. Listen to the Guide

Guides are experts and have been rafting on the river longer than you have. They know its quirks and curves. By following their instructions, you can ensure that you’re prepared with the knowledge of how, where and when to paddle. They’ll be instructing you throughout the trip on how to navigate the turns and rapids, and they’ll show you how to stay in your seat. If you don’t listen, you may find yourself in the water.

6. Paddle With the Team

To get anywhere on the trip, you go with your team. Paddling faster or harder won’t help if it’s not in sync. The guide will teach you how to row at points throughout the trip, but it’s up to you and your fellow rafters to match your strokes.

Strokes should be even with oars, dipping far enough down that enough water is moved and pushed back by the paddle.

7. Be Prepared to Swim

Even when you listen to the guide and paddle perfectly, rafting doesn’t always go according to plan. If you find yourself out of the raft and in the water, it’s important to know what to do. Your life jacket should keep you above water, and your helmet will save your head from knocking into anything solid after you fall in. Once you’re above water, look for a rescue line or paddle that you can grab to get back on the raft. If none is near, just keep swimming.

If someone else falls out of the raft, you should know how to help them. Be ready with your paddle or rescue line to pull them back to the raft and to safety.

Embrace the Adventure

White water rafting is an adventure not many people get to experience. By keeping an open mind and an open ear, you can make sure your first trip is a great success. You’ll be planning your next one in no time!

6 boating tips for beginners

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Whether you’ve just purchased your first boat, or want to get a feel for being out on the water before you sign on that dotted line, everyone starts as a boating beginner. It can be intimidating – piloting a boat is just like driving a car, except it’s completely different. If you want to start your captaining journey, here are six boating tips for beginners to get you started.

  1. Start with Training

You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car without some training, so why would you do the same with a boat? The best tip that we can give you is to get some training first. This doesn’t have to be official training – you can just as quickly learn what you need to know to safely pilot a boat from a friend who spends a lot of time on the water. The critical point to take away from this tip is that you shouldn’t head out onto the water alone with no training.

Make sure you check what your state’s boating rules and regulations are. Some states require you to have a boating license while others only need a valid drivers license to be able to pilot a boat.

  1. Don’t Forget to Check the Weather

There’s nothing worse than heading out on the water on what appears to be a sunny day, only to find yourself trapped in a squall. Check the weather every time before you head out. NOAA is an excellent resource for boaters because they provide weather information on land and the water. Check things like water temperature, weather forecasts, and wind speed to help you determine the best time to head out and explore your local waterways.

  1. Practice Loading and Unloading Your Boat

Driving with a boat trailer attached to your car or truck can be easy – if you’re driving forward in a straight line. Learning to back up your trailer down a boat ramp is tricky and requires practice. The last thing you want to do is damage your boat or back your vehicle so far down the ramp that you end up stuck in the water and need of rescue.

Practicing loading and unloading your boat can also keep you from making enemies at the boat ramp. Everyone wants to get out on the water as quickly as possible, and if your inexperience is holding up the line, you won’t be making any friends.

  1. Properly Tow Inflatable Boats

Depending on the size of your boat, you may not be able to get everywhere you want to go – especially if your boat has a deep keel. Inflatable boats can provide you with extra mobility if you find an island or a river mouth that you want to explore while you’re out, but you need to know how to tow them properly to prevent damage to your boat, your inflatable craft or even yourself.

An inflatable should always be attached to at least two points on your main craft. It’s recommended that you have d-rings on the port and starboard sides to keep the inflatable stable and prevent it from drifting in your wake. Three-point connections are better – they add another D-ring in between the other two points for added stability – but not every boat is equipped with all of these tie-down points.

  1. Don’t Skimp on Safety Equipment

There’s no way to avoid it – purchasing and maintaining a boat is an expensive hobby. You might be tempted to cut corners to save a few dollars here and there by buying used equipment or financing parts that you can’t afford outright. One thing that you should never skimp on is safety equipment.

Even if you can swim, life jackets can save your life. Drowning is the number one cause of death in boating accidents, and 83 percent of those who drowned after an accident weren’t wearing life jackets. Make sure you have life jackets on at all times – and have enough of them for everyone who boards your boat.

  1. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

If you leave something on shore, especially if you’re heading way out in the ocean, getting a replacement can be nearly impossible. Write out a checklist before you leave the ramp to ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your deep-sea exploration. Include things like food, water, clothing, towels (if you’re planning to go swimming), a first aid kit and of course, sunscreen.

We all started as boating beginners once. Don’t let that keep you away from the water. Start by finding someone to teach you the basics and move forward from there.