There’s nothing wrong with being inexperienced or new at something, and boating is no exception. Part of me is always surprised when even the crustiest old salt shows seemingly unending patience with novices on his boat. There’s a joy that everyone takes in showing someone the ropes—anyone with more than one child knows this firsthand. In fact, that expression “show him the ropes” has nautical origins, referring to an old hand bringing a new sailor up to speed on the ship’s rigging.
Most new boaters, both the young and the young at heart, often get their introduction to the sport from a simple invitation. “Folks go out a few times with someone they know,” says Larry Rutter, a founder and partner at Rudders and Moorings Yacht Sales. “I like the idea of ‘OPBs’— Other People’s Boats—and then you get a hooked and you want your own.”
Where to begin? Well a good starting point is to ask your ‘other people’—your boat-owning friend or family member—for information. Doesn’t hurt to double-check what you learn with www.discoverboating.com, and maybe broaden your outlook a bit.
Then you need to think about what kind of boating you like best and move your search in that direction. Once you find a boat to look at, the process is pretty simple. But don’t go it alone.
“We often talk to folks that have previous experience and maybe they’re buying something for their son or maybe they’re buying something for a friend or somebody in their family,” Rutter says. “And that’s really what we’ll see is somebody with experience coming along to help somebody who’s in the family or is a good friend, and they’ll run the boat through its paces, and check everything out and they’ll give the thumbs up and see that the new guy is up and running.”
“The advice that I give to everybody regardless of the size of boat is get yourself a surveyor,” Rutter says. “And maybe the surveyor is your best friend who’s had a boat for 20 years. But get somebody who’s going to check that boat out who knows what they’re talking about. The last thing you want to do is buy a boat and then find it’s suffering from delamination or the engine doesn’t work—that you just bought something and 30 days into it it’s the worst thing you’ve ever done. Always get yourself a surveyor or somebody that knows exactly what they’re talking about to run through the boat and make sure that what you’re buying is what you’re looking for.”
If you’re reading this and know someone who’s starting out, maybe you can lend a hand or some advice. Pass on what you know.