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Last summer, boat sales hit a 10-year high. Mariners and new boat buyers wanted to get away from it all and avoid crowds.

And there’s nothing like sailing away on a large body of water. With your well-stocked boat, you are a floating refuge. You can go about anywhere you want, take whomever you feel comfortable with, and with few restrictions, do what you’d like on your sailing slice of heaven.

But even if you’re a longtime boat owner or a recent purchaser, boat trip planning is a complicated affair to do it right.

A boat trip, like any long camping trip or extreme adventure, needs a good deal of prep; otherwise, you’ll be spending your time docking or ferrying in your dingy for endless bits of this and that.

Or worse, you could be corking out on the ocean waiting for a sea tow.

But that doesn’t have to happen to you. Through the following article, you’ll discover some simple tips for planning a trip on the water.

1. Pick a Destination

First things first, you need a destination. Pick one that is within your skill level or that you feel confident you can handle with your level of seamanship.

Getting into trouble through inexperience could cost you plenty of money and, worse case, harm someone.

Discover Boating’s list of great U.S. boating destinations is a pretty good one. The San Juan Islands, Lake Champlain, Newport (R.I.), and South Florida are all on the list. These are good choices for all sorts of skill levels.

Looking for an adventure farther afield? This yacht rental company will satisfy your itch in exotic locales like Dubai.

2. Proper Boat Trip Planning

It would help if you plotted out your cruise with some specificity. That doesn’t mean exacting flow charts and time schedules, but it does mean making sure births are available at the marinas you want to stay at.

Many a trip has been foiled by a lack of marina space at a boat’s destination.

If you’re planning on dropping anchor or staying out to sea, make sure you have the right nautical charts for your trip. And don’t depend on the map from 10 years ago.

Coastlines change, sands shift, boats sink. Make sure your maps (and electronics) are up to date to avoid catastrophe.

3. Tune Your Boat Up in Advance

Equipment failures have fouled so many boat trips that it almost sounds perfunctory to write it, but you must (must!) get your boat checked out before you head out on a serious trip.

Any maintenance you’ve been putting off, get it done. And don’t ignore anything that seems out of place.

An engine rattle, a burning smell, or a shake in the engine cowl could be a sign of a problem waiting to happen out on the water. Trust your instincts because kicking yourself later is an awful feeling.

4. Inspect Your Essential Equipment

Make sure you have things like the proper amount of life jackets, first aid, and an extra anchor.

Also, check your dingy so that you’re never stranded at sea.

Make sure that your supplies are up today. This includes having enough food to make it through and inspecting your tanks. Fuel tanks, water tanks, and waste tanks should be topped off or emptied as the case may be.

Make a list, check it once, recheck it, and then go through it one more time before your unmoor.

5. Leave Time to Relax

Lastly, when reviewing your itinerary, make sure your schedule isn’t so tight that you feel like you’re still grinding when you want to enjoy your time on the water.

Leave yourself some downtime for relaxing and fun. If something goes wrong, this downtime will allow you to deal with the problem without derailing your trip.

Time to Get Started

If you’ve decided to rent a yacht in an exotic location or you’re ready to take the plunge in your existing cruiser, the key to boat trip planning is all in choosing the right destination and preparation.

With the right crew, port of call, and proper checklist, you can begin your sailing adventure today.

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