Flocking down to warmer weather for the winter? Whether you’re a snowbird at heart, or simply want to explore something new on your next cruisin’ vacation, you might be getting ready to swap your lake lifestyle for the ocean.
If it’s your first time boating in saltwater, you’re in for a treat—just like lake life, the marine scene has its unique set of things to do, discover and fall in love with. And you never get tired of the sea breeze.
Today, we have 10 tips to help you spring into saltwater cruising with ease. Take a look!
Check the weather…
It is always a good idea to check the weather before you do any sort of outdoor activity, of course. But it’s especially helpful for those who are heading offshore, since changes in wind and temperature (and, of course, the appearance of storms and showers) can affect your boating experience when you’re farther from land.
Of course, seeing showers in the forecast doesn’t mean staying in all together! A good rule of thumb is to stick close to shore if you’re expecting changes in the weather, saving those long, endless offshore days for clearer skies (so you don’t need to worry about rushing back to shore).
… and the tide, too
The tide won’t affect you too much if you’re very far offshore, but it certainly can change your boating experience if you are near shore, navigating shallow waters (like those in the Florida Keys and other popular angling spots), or exploring spots that might have underwater debris that only appear during low tide. Knowing when to expect these changes (with a quick check online) can let you proceed with confidence and plan the perfect trip.
Bring a seafaring pal
It never hurts to bring along a friend, especially—in this case—someone who has been boating on the ocean before! They can help you pick up on the rhythm of the waves, answer navigating questions, show you choice places to cast your line, if you’re fishing, and much more.
Learn the way of the waves
Speaking of waves, learning how to handle them (even the little ones) will help you be a better boater on the water. A few basic tips to keep in mind include avoiding breaking waves, or places where they might form such as sandbars and rocky outcrops, and taking waves at an angle from the bow, instead of on the beam, to keep things as stable as possible.
Spread out—but fuel up, too
One of the greatest joys of exploring the ocean, especially if you’ve been “landlocked” up until now, is having the opportunity to spread out! While boaters should always be ready to navigate tight channels, especially when it comes to docking at the end of the day, having a little more wiggle room compared to smaller lakes is a treat. Just be sure to fuel up (and make plans to fuel up along the coast, if you’re going for a longer cruise) since you might be farther away from land for a longer time.
For four-legged friends…
Don’t forget about Fido! If your water-loving pooch is coming along for the fun, be sure to have him drink plenty of fresh water before and during your day at the ocean, since he may be tempted to drink the saltwater.
A new way to angle?
Going fishing? While lake anglers may use visual cues like debris and water vegetation to find fish beneath the surface, the surface of the ocean is often much clearer. Be sure to brush up on new techniques to land fish, from trolling to looking beneath the surface (as opposed to above it) for darker patches that, in shallow water, indicate rocks, coral and cover underwater, places where fish like to dwell.
Switch up your sports routine
You can definitely still enjoy your favorite water sports in saltwater! You’ll just want to find protected coves, inlets and intracoastal areas that offer plenty of room and no (or less) waves so that you can enjoy a great wake. Just close your eyes should you ever tumble into the water—there’s salt here, remember!
Flush your engine
Your engine, too, isn’t the biggest fan of salt’s corrosive nature. Flush your engine after saltwater excursions to keep it operating at its best.
Rinse and repeat
You’re almost done with your first saltwater adventure! When back on land, give your Chaparral a good rinsing with fresh water to protect its surface and keep it looking its best.
You’ll be a saltwater boater in no time! We hope that these tips help you enjoy saltwater fun to the fullest, this winter and beyond.