If you’re new to boating, are boating again after a long break, or if you have recently purchased a new type of boat, you’re not as familiar with, there might be some on-water tasks and manoeuvres you don’t feel fully comfortable performing. Feeling hesitant about performing certain manoeuvres and boating tasks can add unnecessary stress to your boating experience.
Making some time to fine-tune your skills now –in the shoulder season – is a great idea. It’s a fantastic way to become more competent on the water, and with it, gain the confidence to be ready to enjoy boating come spring. The weather in autumn is usually the most forgiving for practice. Winds tend to be less strong as the land isn’t heating up so much during the day, while temperatures are still pleasant enough to be comfortable out on (or in) the water. So, you’ll be able to focus on understanding your boat, how to position it exactly where you want it to go, and when.
Adam’s Top 5 Practice Tips
1 Check the weather, and then check the weather again: Make sure you know what to expect with wind and tides/ currents for your practice. Reschedule if you’re not super confident that you’ll be able to manage the forecast conditions.
2 Practice how the boat responds to controls: Head away from marinas and other boats so you don’t have to be worried about coming too close to anything. Then learn how the boat responds in and out of gear (on both engines if there are more than one). You can also test how effective any manoeuvring aides, like thrusters, are. Then you’ll have a better understanding of how to get the boat to do what you want in the manoeuvres. Plan each manoeuvre and discuss with the crew. Make sure everyone knows their jobs onboard throughout the manoeuvres.
3 Think like you’re playing chess: Imagine the marina fairway and your berth are on a chessboard. Try to only do one thing in each square of the chessboard. Trying to do too many things to the boat at once (such as go, turn, stop) will make it harder to control. Instead, move the boat, turn the boat, then move the boat.
4 Know when to call it a day: Practice can be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. You’ll likely get to the point where you’ve done enough practice and any more attempts will only get worse, not better. Be ready to stop and have a nice cup of tea to debrief with your crew!
5 Call in the experts: Experts like ABC (www.abcboating.net.au) can speed up the learning process and structure your session/s for best results. This will give you the confidence to learn to the best of your ability