A Newcomers Guide to Boating

Gearing Up For Your Next Adventure

Getting a new boat is an experience filled with excitement and fun. Oh, the places you'll go! The daydreaming about itineraries and activities with friends and family tends to begin even before the boat's engines are turned on.

But before you drop those throttles down and head out toward the horizon, it's wise to take an inventory of what boat essentials you'll need on board.

Overview of Marine Electronics for New Boaters

This article provides an overview of the most popular marine electronics offered by West Marine. When evaluating a prospective electronics purchase, features to consider include ease of operation, product reliability and the skill level required for installation.

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Boating Basics: Trailering

If you are new to trailer boating, backing a boat down a launch ramp under the critical, impatient gaze of more experienced boaters can be unnerving. In this article, Miguel provides some useful advice and tips to help you build confidence and enjoy a safe trailering experience.

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Recommended Must Haves For The New Boater

Super Gard Boat Fender

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Avoid scuffs and dings when docking with quality fenders. With multiple colors available you can even make them match your boat.

GPSMAP 86sci inReach Capable Handheld GPS

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A handheld GPS is great to have on board as a backup to other GPS systems. Plus, with an optional subscription you can send text messages via the iridium satellite network anywhere in the world making it easy to check in with family and friends.

Floating & Telescoping Boat Hooks

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A telescoping boat hook is easy to store and makes grabbing dock lines a lot easier when docking.

HX890BK Floating 6 Watt Handheld VHF/GPS Radio

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VHF radios are a must have to communicate with other boats, harbor masters and rescue or tow services in an emergency. Having a handheld on board also allows you to communicate when you're away from the helm which comes in handy.

GO9 XSE Fishfinder/ Chartplotter Combo

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Find your new favorite spot and find more fish with the GO9 XSE. With an easy-to-use, sunlight-readable display, Active Imaging three-in-one transducer and C-MAP Pro Discover digital charts, this unit is a great addition to your boat.

Pump Kit-Bilge Dry w/ Switch

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Rule's new Dry Bilge Pump takes you a big step closer to a moisture-free bilge as it removes water from the bilge down to 1/8th of an inch or less leaving you with a cleaner and drier bilge than other pumps.

6 Gallon Ultra6 Portable Fuel Tank

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Extra fuel on board means you can stay out longer. These tanks are easy to store even in tight spaces and meet all ABYC, NMMA, EPA and CARB requirements.

Waterproof 3000-Lumen Rechargeable LED Spotlight

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A rechargeable spotlight is a huge help if you take your boat out at night allowing you to easily scan the water, shore or dock for obstacles.

Lifesling2 Overboard Rescue System

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The Lifesling2 meets USCG requirements to carry a throwable PFD onboard and also serves as a rescue device for pulling someone back to the boat if one of your crew goes overboard.

Floating Locator Electronic SOS Beacon Kit

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Avoid the hassle of replacing pyrotechnic flares by carrying a USCG approved electronic distress signal instead. This model by Orion is visible for up to three nautical miles and comes with an orange distress flag to satisfy daytime distress signal requirements as well.

3-Layer Water Carpet 6' x 18'

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You got to your spot, time to relax. Available in multiple sizes with the largest capable of supporting up to 6 adults or 900 pounds, a water carpet is a must have for a relaxing day on the water.

Elide Fire Extinguisher Balls

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A fire on board is bad news. Elide's extinguisher balls can easily be mounted in your cabin or engine room and will disburse a non-toxic dry chemical fire-fighting agent within three to five seconds of being exposed to an open flame.

7-Piece Angler Fishing Kit with Case

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All the tools an angler needs in a convenient zippered storage case including a bait knife, filet knife, marine shears, a dehooker, fishing pliers with line cutters and a tape measure.

70 Qt. Premium Marine Cooler

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Whether you need it to keep your catch or your drinks cold, our Premium Marine Cooler can handle it. With up to 10 days of ice retention, 70 qt capacity, 316-grade stainless-steel hardware, and a refrigerator-grade gasket, it's an excellent addition to your boat.

Foul Weather Gear - Men's Third Reef Jacket

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Be prepared for unexpected rain or the spray of the sea with Third Reef. Waterproof, windproof, and breathable to keep you comfortable, Third Reef foul weather gear is as ready for the water as you are.

Staying Safe On The Water

Shop our complete selection of boat safety gear. At a minimum, you need to meet US Coast Guard requirements for marine safety. Required safety equipment includes personal flotation devices like life jackets or other PFDs. Some boats must carry throwable flotation such as buoyant cushions, life preserver rings and horseshoe buoys. Boats must carry a sound producing device. Examples include horns and whistles.

Regulations require most boats carry visual distress signals. These include aerial flares and handheld flares. For going offshore, we suggest SOLAS flares. Strangely enough, you are not required to carry an EPIRB or a PLB. We recommend that you do.

Life Jackets and PFD's View Category
Signaling Devices View Category
Fire Extinguishers View Category
Crew Overboard Products View Category
EPIRBS and PLB's View Category
First Aid View Category

Ten Safety Tips for New Boaters

For those who are new to boating and even for experienced "salts", we've compiled ten tips related to enjoying yourself safely on your boat. All of these tips involve taking responsibility for the safety of yourself, your boat and your crew.

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U.S. Coast Guard Required Equipment for Recreational Vessels

New boats normally include the gear you need to meet minimum U.S. Coast Guard requirements. While you're newly commissioned boat might be legally ready for service, we suggest that there may be some additional items to consider before you cast off.

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Know Before You Go

All kinds of boats elicit romantic notions of afternoons spent on a breezy bay, hardcore racing , historical re-enactment on tall ships, distance cruising to exotic shores or fishing for the big catch – and all these visions are correct. Because sail and power boats today can do vastly different things. See below resources to plan and make sure your are ready for the next adventure.

The West Advisor® has been a trusted source for technical boating information since we published our first Master Catalog in 1987.

Based on experience gained from thousands of miles of boating on a wide variety of craft, building and maintaining power and sail vessels and fixing stuff on our own boats.

Go to West Advisor

Life is Better with a Boat! We believe that boating is for everyone. Our goal is to help people like you get started in boating (we want to help you let your inner boater out).

We do that by sharing information on the benefits of boating, tips and advice on how to choose and buy a boat, boating activities and where to go boating.

Go to Discover Boating Site

The water is open. And it's time to leave stress in our wake.

With Take Me Fishing, you'll find all the information you need to learn, plan, and equip for a day on the water.

Go to Take Me Fishing

America's Boating Club® is for all types of boaters – novice or experienced, in coastal or inland waterways. We bring boaters together to improve their skills, make connections, or just enjoy time together.

Our boating courses and seminars are just the beginning – beyond the classroom a world of boating fun awaits!

Go to America's Boating Club

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating.

The Foundation provides educational outreach directly to boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide.

Go to BoatUS Foundation

Founded in 1958, the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) serves as a national catalyst for developing a safe boating culture by providing educational resources, outreach programming, and training opportunities for industry partners and the boating community to influence safe, secure, and responsible boating.

Go to National Safe Boating Council
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