7 Ways to Improve Your Boating Skills  

Boat handling is an important skill set every boater must possess. Learning how to operate your boat properly can be a long and tenuous process. Still, there are many ways to improve your abilities and ensure a safe boating experience for all. As we are deep into the winter season, and colder days mean less boating, use this time to improve your boating skills and become a master of the water.  

Knowledge is power so take this downtime to educate yourself as much as possible about every aspect of boating. Follow these seven tips to ensure you and your family feels safe and secure when you hit the waterways this upcoming season. 

Boating Skills
Improving your boating skills with these tips will have you and your passengers feeling confident and safe on the water!

Enroll in local or online boating safety courses.

Most states require boat owners and operators have some formal educational training to obtain a boating license.   

Take these courses seriously and learn everything you can about boating and the power of the water. In addition to the classes required to get your license, explore the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations that offer boat safety courses, education, and training.   

Learn the anatomy of your boat.

Understanding and identifying the different parts of your boat is crucial to improving your boating skills.   

There’s more to boating than knowing the pointy end is the bow, and the flat end is the stern. A safety course will teach you about hull designs, the equipment you need for your specific boat, and even the types of engines. This makes you a better-informed owner and operator because you’ll respect the strengths and weaknesses of your watercraft.  

Practice docking.

Docking a boat can often be stressful and overwhelming, especially for those just getting familiar with boating.   

Fortunately, learning to dock a boat doesn’t have to be complex, and new and old boaters can quickly master the task. Now is the time to learn while the waterways are quiet. Follow these simple steps and become a docking pro:  

  • Prepare dock lines and attach fenders.  
  • Line up your approach and inspect the area.  
  • Evaluate the wind, current, and conditions.  
  • Take your time, and head slowly towards the dock.  
  • Navigate into the boat slip or turn to come alongside the pier.  
  • Tie your boat onto posts, pilings, or cleats using your docking lines.  
Boating Skills
Pro Tip: When it comes to docking, practice makes perfect, and is a crucial part of your overall boating skills.

Brush up on your navigation skills.

If there’s a secluded island you’ve been dying to explore, map out your route now.   

You’ll be even more confident when you cast off the lines. Check a marine navigation app or nautical charts for water depths, submerged obstacles, or other potential difficulties. Use this time to get familiar with float plans and get used to making this a part of your regular boating exercises.  


Double-check your equipment.

While the U.S. Coast Guard requires different items for different types of boats there is some basic, universal gear that are a must onboard.

Start with life jackets. Now’s the time to ensure buckles and seams are intact and that the flotation devices don’t have holes. Ensure that family members haven’t outgrown the life jackets and they still fit properly. In addition to life jackets, make sure you have the following:  

  • Throwable flotation devices  
  • Fire extinguishers  
  • Signaling devices  
  • Medical kit   
  • Anchor with line  
  • Paddles   
  • Radio  
  • Knife to cut a line around a fouled propeller  
  • Heavy duty flashlight  


Become an expert at boating knots.

Believe it or not, boating knots are integral to boating education.  

So, take some time to get familiar with all the basic boating knots. Then, keep some spare line by the TV or your favorite recliner to remind yourself keep practicing.  



Ask for help.

Ask for specific advice from an expert to improve your boat-handling skills.     

Is there a neighbor slip holder at your local marina who always seems to know it all? Or maybe your friend who’s been boating for years? Take advantage of their expertise, and eventually become one of them yourself!  



There is no better way to improve your boating skills than by practicing in your very own boat. Search our listings for all available boats for sale. Filter by location, boat type, boat make, or price range. Then get on the path to Instant Boatification.™