8. Types Of Watercraft
Whether you enjoy sitting back motoring around in a speed boat, or simply want to float on the water while waiting for a bite on your line, here are a few of the many recreational watercraft available for you to use.
Canoes – Usually big enough for one to two people, canoes are easy to transport and propelled by oars. Canoes are a very popular for adventures such as white water rapids and river travel. They were the boat of choice for Native Americans and they are still popular today being the first boat a lot of people sail in.
Kayaks – Similar to canoes, kayaks tend to be one man boats that can also be used on rivers, inland water, and coastlines. They are propelled by oars operated by the person in the kayak and are popular for fishing or in competitive sporting events. They are easy to transport and maneuver through the water and can take on a variety of shapes depending on their owner’s need. More Kayaks
Row Boats and Dinghies – Propelled through the water by oars, these types of watercraft are most commonly found in restricted and protected waters such as lakes and reservoirs. They are usually a bit heavier than a canoe or kayak and can seat one to six people depending on the size.
Small Sailboats – are made from fiberglass with wood or aluminum spars and a sloop sail rig – a mainsail and jib. These types of boats have been used in racing and when operated as such have more sail volume, a lighter frame, and trapeze that allow the crew to lean over the water for better stability. These types of boats are good for casual sailing of one to two people. Daysailers are sailboats that are wider across the beam to allow for more people to enjoy at one time. More Sailboats
Cruising Sailboats – Similar to their small siblings, the cruising sailboat starts at a length of at least 25 feet with additional sails and cargo space. They are also wider across the beam which allows for more passengers and crew at one time. Even though cruising sailboats are bigger, they do not lose performance or speed. More Sailboats - 28+ ft
Yachts – Boats that are larger then twenty-five feet in length fall under this category and include ship like cabin cruisers, catamarans, and trimarans. There are five classifications for yachts as follows:
1. Day cruiser – includes plumbing and refrigerator by no cabin
2. Weekender – comes with one to two basic cabins below deck, a small galley, and plumbing amenities
3. Cruising – includes cabins, galleys, living area, and plumbing designed so that the owner could spend an extended amount of time aboard
4. Sport Fishing – a cruising yacht with sports fishing equipment included
5. Luxury – the same as a cruising/sports fishing yacht but on a larger scale with more amenities
Freshwater Fishing Boats – your general rowboat except it has an outboard engine instead of 'people power'. Many of these boats are designed especially for the fisherman and included upraised seats, cargo benches, and other amenities to make the day more enjoyable for boat owner and his or her friends. More Freshwater Boats
Saltwater Fishing Boats – these boats are typically larger than their freshwater cousin as they are built to withstand the unpredictableness of large saltwater bodies. Flat boats are good for saltwater areas with shallow waters while sportfishing boats can range from 25 to 80-ft or more in length. They can very basic and wide open to nature or include cabins and wheelhouses designed to protect the fisher from the elements. More Saltwater Boats
Cruising Boats – Powered by engine or by sail, these boats tend to range from 20 feet to seventy feet long and have small crews to sail them. Depending on the type of boat, they can have two masts – like a schooner rig – in order for the boat to be handled by two people. Longer day trips can be taken on trawlers which use diesel power and are more stable. These diesel powered boats are popular modes of travel on inland waterways.
Watersports or Skiboats – Basically designed to be specialized towboats, these types of watercraft are built for speed and strength. These are the boats that you see tugging water skiers and parasailers behind them and they can be used on fresh or salt water bodies. Many police departements and life guard operations use these types of boats to patrol the shoreline. More Powerboats
Jet Ski – you could call these personal watercrafts 'motorcycles for the water'. They are built similar to a motorcycle in both form and style, except the hull is designed to punch through water using the water jet system. Users usually sit on the seat and guide it with the handlebars and can sit one to two people. Jet skis, like skiboats, are commonly used by law enforcement authorities and life guard organizations. More Jet Skis
Houseboat – a boat or barge that has modified for use as a standard human dwelling which includes a kitchen, full bathroom amenities, living area and bedroom. They can be separated into rooms or have a open design. Houseboats are motorized so that they can be moved from place to place on the water if needed and they are kept stationary by being moored at fixed points. More House Boats
9. Navigational Equipment & Instruments
In order to operate your watercraft successfully and safely owners should have a good working knowledge of the navigation equipment and electronics utilized by these craft. Some of the equipment may be handheld items as many oar and sail propelled vehicles do not have electronic devices hooked up to them.
Let’s take a look at some of the common devices that you will need to be familiar with whenever you take to the water.
Global Positioning System (GPS) – in a fixed mounted or handheld version, these hand electronic devices keep a track of where you are by coordinating the signals from four or more satellites orbiting the earth. Each GPS provides accurate local time and turns it into the latitude and longitude on a standard map and displays it for the user. Many GPS’s can give you precise directions from one place to another.
Fish Finder – these handy devices uses echo sounding, a type of SONAR, to find fish at the bottom of a lake, river, or other body of water. The device displays the location of the fish in comparison to the body of waters bottom usually on a digital or LCD display screen. Some of the fish finders on the market include GPS, chart-plotting, electronic compasses, and possibly even radar built-in.
VHF Marine Radio – these are used on motorized small boats and large ships to call for rescue service, communicate with marinas and harbors, and speak to harbor patrol. Some people also use them for collision avoidance, but it is not recommended as a reliable source. Most of these radios operate in the 156 to 174 MHz range.
Marine Radar – a device used to detect distant objects above and below water that determines their position, how fast they are moving towards you and what their characteristics are based on analysis of the radio waves that are bounced off of their surface. Radar has been used to navigate ships when the weather conditions make visible charting difficult.
Marine Autopilots – designed to be used on a variety of different wheel styles, marine autopilots are devices that when programmed take over the control of steering the ship. These are especially handy during calm whether at night time while the owner or crew is asleep but needing to make time.
Marine Instruments – a group of devices used to make sure that the boat is operating efficiently. Used mostly on motorized watercraft, these are the instruments that are found on the boats cockpit panel. These instruments include but are not limited to: gas and fume detectors; fuel flow sensors; depth gauges; speed and temperature gauges; navigation gauges; and wind meters.
Compasses – used to determine the direction you are sailing in, many of these are built into the larger boats and sailing vessels. People who use smaller watercraft, such as row boats, can use just a plain, handheld compass in order to get the same readings. Compasses are useful with sextants and other course plotting devices.
Binoculars And Night Vision Scopes – these items are used to see long distances both in the daylight and at night. They are very helpful when scouting for land or marine life that may rise from the water when fishing. The night vision scopes help the crew see at night if they are night fishing or needing to see beyond the light of the ship.
Navigation Charts – maps of the oceans, islands, and other information about the ocean floor or lakes and rivers so that crewmembers can navigate around obstacles that are dangerous. These charts change on a regular basis with the changes in the water and tides, so it is advisable that all ships have the most current charts available before setting sail.
10. Improving Safety at Sea
Safety at sea – or on any body of water for that matter – is very important for anyone who sails. You should always make sure that you have the appropriate safety gear on board, such as enough lifejackets for everyone, navigation lights, signal flares and horns, fire extinguishers, VHF radios and more.
Here is a list of items that each vessel – motorized or otherwise – should be equipped with. Keep in mind that this list is the bare minimum required by legislation in the United States.
1. Running lights and shapes – all running lights should be turned on when visibility is reduced. They are also to be used at night.
2. Safety harness – a tether approximately six feet long that can be attached to a harness and secured to a sturdy structure on deck. Used in times of heavy-weather.
3. Personal floatation device (PFD) – life jackets, flotation aids, and throwable PFDs, such as a life ring or floatable cushions. Each passenger is required to wear one of these devices.
4. Fire extinguishers – there should be one to handle burning wood, paper, other combustibles, flammable liquid, electrical fires and metal fires, equalling a total or four different types on board.
5. Horn, whistle, or bell – these must be able to be heard at a one mile distance.
6. Flares – these should be visible for day or night use
7. Radar deflector – these are hoisted when there is reduced visibility for larger ships to ‘see’ that you are there
8. Documentation – all state and federal documentation must be carried aboard
If travelling in cold water temperatures, clothing that contains foam neoprene should be provided for all passengers and crewmembers to help stave hypothermia on the occasion that someone falls overboard. Sun block that works against UVA and UVB rays should also be worn in addition to protective clothing to prevent sun exposure. Wide brim hats are also recommended.
And, of course, a fully stocked medical cabinet with bandages, ointments, cold packs, hot packs, allergy medication such as benadryl or other types to combat severe reactions, and more should also be carried on board.
11. Essential Tips for Responsible Boat Care
Keeping your boat running in tip top shape is important and every boat owner should make it a point to take care of their vessel. Not only will it provide you summer after summer of fun, it is also a financial investment. The following list of tips is some basic boat maintenance that you should perform during the months of use and before you winterize it for the season.
1. Before you do anything else, make a checklist of all of the things you need to do to keep your boat properly maintained all year long. Use a professional checklist if possible to ensure you don’t miss anything.
2. Give your boat a clean on a regular basis. This will help protect it from environmental wear and tear. Waxing the hull and painting it when needed with anti-fouling paint also helps to protect it from the elements. Don’t forget to clean the interior and use things like upholstery and carpet cleaner and wood cleaner to protect the inside from salt and other environmental contaminants floating in the air.
3. Make sure you moor your boat properly and securely so that it is not scratched or damaged. Verify that all of your lines are securely fastened, do not show any sign of wear, and excess length is neatly coiled.
4. Clean you battery regularly and always ensure it has a full charge.
5. Inspect your boat from top to bottom, inside and out, for anything that could need repair. Don’t leave anything out even if you think it is minor.
6. Take care of your inboard and outboard motor by flushing the motor after every outing. Check all of the fuel tanks; look for rust on clamps, or any other type of corrosion. Check your air filters, oil levels, and cooling system to make sure it is working efficiently.
7. Winterize your boat regardless of whether you store it in water, in a climate controlled environment or in your back yard.
8. Make sure you bilge pump is properly working and that the battery system on your boat can support prolonged use.
9. Use water repellent, non-conductive grease or a corrosion inhibitor on all electrical fittings and make sure that the electrical systems remain dry. Faulty electrical components are one of the top reasons for boat failure.
10. Cover your boat with a professional boat cover to keep it clean from environmental hazards and the sun.
11. Be familiar with your boat’s user’s manual and everything it states to do to properly maintain your vessel. If you are new to boating, consider taking a boating instruction class that will review everything you need to know.
12. Charter Boat Destinations
If you are considering purchasing a boat but you are unsure what type to get, renting a boat may be the best option for you. You want to make sure you get the type of boat that is fit for your and your family, and by renting a boat for a set period of time allows you to try out a variety of different types and styles before making a final decision. You can rent a boat for a few hours or charter one for a longer period of time to get a really good feel of the vessel.
The most basic of models are usually offered, but rental boats are not just limited to big luxury yachts or fast speed boats. If you wanted to go fishing out on a lake with a buddy and neither of you had a boat, you could easily rent one for the day instead of worrying about going out and spending money you may not have or may not wish to invest.
Chartering a boat with a captain offers you an additional benefit: the chance to relax and enjoy the open water without having to know about boating. Some of these charter boats can go out for day outings, longer trips with a full crew to wait on you, or for a simple deep sea fishing trip.
If you are looking for a place to vacation where you can rent or charter a boat, why not check out one of these great places in the United States?
Lake Powell, Utah – located in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, this is a great place for houseboating. The lake is open to waterskiing, boating, fishing, and kayaking, and there are plenty of places to go hiking or visit in the area. Houseboat rentals are available.
Lake Kissimmee, Florida – a great place for bass fishing and kayaking, although occasionally there are wind warnings in effect that make the day more suitable to hiking than being on the water
Marco Island, Florida – one of the many islands in the 10,000 island chain in the Florida Everglades, Marco Island has a wide variety of charter services that range from fishing to simple sight seeing.
Lake Hubbard, Texas – there are on boat rental facilities on the lake and it is a day use only area, but the public fishing here is phenomenal and there are plenty of campgrounds and lodging nearby.
Chesapeake Bay – running between Baltimore, Maryland and Virginia Beach, Virginia, Chesapeake Bay offers fishers and day trippers plenty of water to explore. There is a large selection of charter and rental companies in the Bay area.
13. Water Sports & Toys
Walk through the summer watersports section at your local sporting goods store and you’ll see a variety of water toys and sports equipment ready to be used this summer. It doesn’t matter what age you are, we all have fun at the beach. Of course, the toys we enjoy the most at the beach do have a little more to do with our age. Babies and toddlers will enjoy things like arm floaties and vests, inflatable rings, and other floatation devices that give them and their parents a chance to enjoy the water safely.
Older children who can swim and tread water will enjoy using kickboards and noodles – a long Styrofoam solid tube that helps them float. Some older children begin to learn how to water-ski, surfboard, and wakesurfing, which uses a surf board being towed behind a boat similar to waterskiing and towable tubes
Adults enjoy parasailing and jet skis as well as simply wading in the water enjoying the easy ebb and flow of the surf and the squeals of delight from their children.
When enjoying the water, make sure you do it safely, where plenty of sun block and simply have fun.