So, you’ve taken the plunge and purchased a boat. Now what? Here are some next steps and best practices on taking care of your new vessel.
Get to know your vessel
Before rushing out to join the boating community or nearest fishing fleet, it’s important to invest time in learning how to run your vessel, understanding the electronics package, and getting a feel for how it responds to your control. Taking a boating course to get a handle on the rules of the sea is also a good idea, since they aren’t always intuitive. (Brianna’s Law requires anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, to complete a boater safety course before driving a motorboat in New York.)
“Most boat dealers offer some form of orientation and instruction when you purchase a boat,” says Bridget Rymer, director of marketing for Strong’s Marine, which operates seven marinas and sales locations across Long Island, including three in Mattituck. “Take full advantage of the time provided and be sure to speak up and ask questions as you learn about all the controls, how to dock, and navigational operations. The bigger the boat, the more time you’ll need to get to know it. A 60-footer might come with a week of instruction from a certified captain, a 20-footer might require an afternoon.”
Rymer points out that some dealers also provide sponsored activities. “We’ll organize raft-ups in Robins Island Cove, and we often sponsor rendezvous to places like Newport [R.I.], where new boaters can tag along and simply follow our lead vessel to a fun destination. These are great opportunities to learn, so take advantage of them.”
Have a backup plan
Think, also, about picking up a membership with Sea Tow (seatow.com) or BoatUS (boatus.com). Both offer plans for on-water towing that can save considerable money should you require help getting back to the dock, need a gas drop or battery jump. SeaTow’s international headquarters, incidentally, are located right in Southold.
Stay strict with service
You’ll want to stay right on schedule with the manufacturer’s suggested break-in period and routine service. “Keep engine liquids at appropriate levels and bring your boat in right away if you hear a sound you don’t recognize,” says Goldsmith. “Problems are best addressed right immediately so they don’t get worse. When you pull your vessel at season’s end, fix anything you can so it won’t cost you time come next boating season.” To avoid additional maintenance, Goldsmith adds that going slow is a good idea when docking — “Neutral is your friend,” he laughs. “Don’t go in reverse if you run aground,” adds Lieblein. “That can cause your engine to suck up sand and silt, which is never a good thing in the long run.”
Find a home for your boat
If you can swing it, Goldsmith adds, arrange to keep your boat in a slip. “People who do seem to use their boats more often than those who trailer; it’s a lot less hassle than launching and hauling every time you want to head out.” Slip sizes, by the way, also vary in price based on the size, location within the marina, and amenities of the slip, reminds Lieblein, so it’s important to compare apples to apples. At Port of Egypt, for example, slip prices range from $3,450 to $7,000 with a season of April through October. Each slip comes with a floating dock on each side of the boat, full electric, water, plus a pool membership.