7 Smart Tips for Boating in South Florida

7 Smart Tips for Boating in South Florida

Delicious food. A vibrant culture. Beautiful beaches and some of the world’s most iconic cruising spots—South Florida’s truly got it all.

If you’re in town for the Miami International Boat Show, or are simply planning an upcoming getaway, you’ll be spending lots of time on the water. Now is the time to prepare for the boating fun that is to come!

Take a look below as we share seven simple tips for enjoying the South Florida boating scene to the fullest.

Cover up

Getting ready for a South Florida getaway? Even in the midst of winter—which, here, is usually a balmy 70 degrees or more—you’ll want to cover up wherever you go. Carry around sunscreen, shades and a hat so that you’re always comfortable, no matter what the day may bring.

The best part? South Florida style is all about embracing the sun and heat, so you’re surrounded by stylish options for doing exactly that. Lightweight, long-sleeved tops and pants (think breezy linen, for example) are perfect for enjoying warm days while still protecting your skin from the sun above.

Plan for a full day

Miami. Fort Lauderdale. The Florida Keys—and beyond. With so many world-famous cruising destinations located so close to each other, your simple day trip might turn into something a little bigger by the time lunch rolls around. And that’s okay! Give yourself the freedom and flexibility to enjoy all that South Florida has to offer by planning for a full day (or two, or more…) on board. That means packing additional towels, dry clothes and provisions for snacking between waterfront pit-stops. Set a schedule, too, but write it in pencil so that unexpected adventures can be enjoyed with ease!

Watch for wildlife

Florida’s waters are home to wildlife you might not find in other states. Manatees, for example, are a beloved feature of both freshwater and brackish destinations—so you can find them just about anywhere close to shore! Look out for speed signs and no-wake zones that let you know when to slow down. By doing so, you don’t just make the waterways safer for all—you have an even better chance of catching majestic, awe-inspiring creatures in action. When you do, slow down and enjoy the view!

Refine your technique for tight-space maneuvers

Florida is home to some of the world’s best offshore adventures—as well as some very popular thoroughfares, like the Miami River or the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway. To enjoy the best of both, be sure to brush up on your tight-space maneuvering techniques (especially if you’re more used to lake cruising and other more spacious destinations). These techniques include precision docking (your co-captain can help gauge your movements here), as well as the etiquette of busy waterways. The basic idea? Take the time you need to carry out safe, mindful movements, and give your fellow boaters the room to do the same. You’ll be ready for high-traffic cruising in no time.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

The South Florida boating scene is dominated by offshore fishing alone—right?

Think again! While offshore fishing and images of catching that picture-perfect marlin might be popular, this is not the only way to enjoy South Florida. Granted, the fishing scene is unparalleled, but other opportunities abound for every kind of boater and every type of interest. If you like to cling close to shore, enjoying the leisurely amenities of dock-and-dine cafes and bustling city marinas, stick to the Intracoastal Waterway or Miami River and Biscayne Bay. Want to hop into something a little smaller and enjoy a close-to-water experience? Kayaking fun stretches from the Florida Everglades all the way down to the Keys. Protected bays across South Florida provide the perfect opportunity for water sports action, too. Whatever your on-the-water style, there’s something for you to enjoy!

Get to know stormy weather, South Florida-style

You’re all ready to go—fueled up, lathered in sunscreen and prepped with all your gear on board—only to see storm clouds covering your favorite on-the-water digs! What do you do?

While rainy weather might seem like a wrench in your plans, local boaters know that most South Florida storms are a come-and-go phenomenon, and not a predictor of the entire day’s weather. Check your local forecast and stay off the water during thunder, lightning or rough weather, but stick close to the marina as you wait it out. You might just realize that the storm cloud gives way to sunny skies in no time!

Remember your life jacket

Life jackets might seem like a no-brainer for boaters—but in South Florida, you’re likely to spend so much time near the water (at cafes, parks and waterfront shopping destinations) that you forget to slip into your PFD when you actually hop on board! Get into the habit of wearing your vest whenever you board your boat and set a reminder on your phone if needed.

If you’re attending the Miami International Boat Show, they’ve got you covered on this front—the Sea Tow Foundation is providing loaner life jacket stations throughout the show, so that you can pick up a jacket when you need it and replace it when you’re back on land! It will get you into the routine of suiting up as you hit the water, a simple step for water safety worth following on every adventure to come.

We hope that today’s guide helps prepare you and your passengers for the cruising adventures ahead! When it comes to boating, there’s no place quite like South Florida. Come out on your Chaparral and discover its one-of-a-kind charm for yourself, real soon.

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