Top 8 Mistakes Recreational Boaters Make

Table of contents


Too often many new boaters make these mistakes the first few times they take their boat out but don’t feel too bad because even experienced boaters can and do make the same mistakes!

1. Boarding the vessel

When boarding a boat from a pontoon or wharf, people often leave one foot on the boat and the other on the shore and if the boat moves off, they end up in the water! The same applies when getting off the boat.

ALWAYS when getting on or off a boat, always maintain a firm hold and if necessary, have someone assist you!

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2. Failing to run the engine room fan/blower (where fitted)

If your boat has an engine room fan or blower to dissipate fumes that build up, especially if you have petrol engines, failure to run the fan/blower is often the cause of explosions and fires. These have the potential to damage or destroy the boat and cause serious injury or loss of life.

ALWAYS run the fan/blower for at least 5 minutes after refueling. You can start and run the fan/blower during fueling as an extra safety precaution!


3. Leaving a mooring line attached to the wharf or pontoon

All too often we see new boaters and seasoned ones as well leave a mooring line attached to the pontoon or wharf. This results in a sudden stop and a potential for injuries or damage to the boat!

ALWAYS double check that all lines have been release BEFORE moving off!


4. Putting fuel into your water tank

Putting fuel into your boats freshwater tank, or water into your boats fuel tank is not an uncommon problem and it can be an expensive one. This can mean having to drain your tank and have it cleaned out.

ALWAYS check that you are putting fuel into the fuel tank and water into the water tank.


5. Failing to secure the anchor line or chain to the boat

Failing to secure the anchor line or chain is a common problem resulting in the loss of all your ground tackle (anchor, chain and line) which can be a costly experience. I have to admit that although this is serious, it’s also funny to watch someone drop the anchor and them watch the chain and line running out then the end of the line or chain disappear overboard.

ALWAYS check that your anchor line or chain is firmly secured to your boat, preferably by a shackle!


6. Failing to know the area

By not having a basic idea of the waters you are going to operate your boat, is a recipe for disaster. The potential for running aground and causing serious damage to your boat and/or serious injury to loss of life gets higher due to little or no knowledge of the waterway you’re boating on.

ALWAYS  before heading out identify what navigational hazards are in the area such as reefs, mud/sand banks and other potential hazards and, ensure you know how to identify all aids to navigation, e.g., channel markers, beacons, lights, etc.

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7. Approaching the wharf or pontoon too fast

No matter what type of boat you have or how good a driver you are, approaching a berth can result in damage to your boat and infrastructure or serious injury to loss of life.

ALWAYS take your time, assess the prevailing conditions and adjust your approach, accordingly, take the time to do it without damage or injuries!

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8. Overloading your boat

Overloading your boat can result in a serious loss of stability and performance. It can also lead to capsizing which may be the cause of serious injury and even loss of life.

Always ensure you do not overload your boat and stay within the specified person and/or weight capacity for your boat.

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While we all may look at the above incidents and have a good laugh, the reality is if this happens to you it can be a very costly mistake and one that has the potential to cause serious injury!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

The best recommendation we can give is to take serious note of these mistakes and ensure you check each individual item as you’re preparing for your next voyage.

Surprisingly enough, one of the most common mistakes from the above list is putting fuel into your water tank or worse still, putting water into your fuel tank and…often, you don’t realise it until it is too late! Your water tank cap should have WATER on it so always check it!


Whilst many may seem like ‘common sense’ or ‘having experience to know’ – often in the excitement of the moment, or stress of the moment, things can get overlooked. This is when you need to take a moment and ensure all of the above mistakes are avoided and the necessary steps are taken.

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