Thou Shall Not Assume Driving A Boat Is Easy
Driving a boat is more correctly refereed to as “operating a vessel.” Doing so may look easy enough, until you realize the darn thing doesn’t have brakes and the dock is coming at you way too quickly. Yes, the boat’s wheel does — usually — allow you to aim the pointy end where you want to go, but fluid dynamics provide a vastly different experience than what you’re accustomed to in a car. Here’s 99% of what novice boaters need to know: Always aim for something affordable to start. This takes away the worry of minor dents and dings when docking and making your way through the throngs of boats rafted up for sandbar festivities.
Thou Shalt Not Talk Nautical
Taking nautical sounds like a great idea while out on the briney blue, but we promise you it’s not. If you don’t know a bow from a bagel or you think those red and green lights up on the pointy end are turn signals, you might want to pipe down. As Mark Twain said: “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Nobody says “avast!” or “ahoy!” better than Johnny Depp, so don’t even try. For what it’s worth, “port” is not always what is in the wine cooler. On a semi-related note, if you’re hanging around the newly-single Amber Heard, “talking naughty” is an entirely different matter and should always be pursued.
Thou Shalt Not Wear A Thong (Or A Speedo)
While South Florida waters are packed with boats full of bikini-clad beauties, unless you’re often assumed to be a Victoria’s Secret model (or Abercrombie & Fitch for the guys), avoid the G-strings and Canadian banana hammocks. Beyond the retinal damage you’ll do to those who see you cavorting around like a character out of a nautical camp-classic flick, too much UV exposure can result in irreparable skin damage. Skin cancer is a real concern here in sunny South Florida, but a little bit of common sense and a lot of sunblock and lightweight cover-ups can keep you healthy. While wearing too little can be a faux pas, so can showing up in a blue blazer and white linen shorts. Unless you’re headed for afternoon tea on Malcolm Forbes’ iconic Highlander, shorts and a t-shirt should do. On a boat, the saying “shoes make the man” refers to wearing footwear that won’t scuff decks and helps avoid slips on a wet deck surface. When it comes to choosing the right shoes, anything a Kardashian would wear is a stunningly bad idea. Lastly, don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you must, feel free to go all Joan Crawford.
Thou Shalt Not Be A Sloppy Boater
Sunshine, a boat and alcohol are a bad combination. It’s a proven fact that too much ABV will not make you more beautiful (or handsome), 20 pounds lighter, smarter and funnier; the thousands of embarrassing drunken YouTube videos that go viral every week are all the proof you need. Instead, getting tipsy will greatly increase the chances of injury or accident out on the water. If you drink, DO NOT dare to touch the controls. Period. Keep an eye on the others aboard, too; cutting them off before they plop over the side is always a good idea. When you spend a lot of time on a boat, you soon discover that for some unfathomable reason, guests feel the need to toss bottles, cans, food (and often each other) over the side. Garbage floats in the water forever unless it sinks to the bottom…but in both cases, it fouls the water and irritates local habitats. It’s also rude, so unless it’s ejected from a bodily orifice, nothing should ever go from the boat into the water.
Thou Shalt Not Be Cheap
Insurance, dock fees, equipment, food, fuel and general care and maintenance are never-ending costs. When a friend invites you for a day of cruising or fishing, return the favor by offering to pay for lunch and maybe kick in for gas. The owner may well not accept the cash, but the fact that you offered it will get you another invitation. Want to save some cash by buying a used boat? A pre-owned vessel can be a wonderful experience or will result in unimaginable mental anguish. “Cheap” boats do not exist. Spending a bit more for a boat that passes a pre-purchase survey beats the Craigslist “Too Good To Be True” deal every time.