Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Boating Fun Calls for Plans A & B

February 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

plan a and ba 

Boating season is never long enough, and for many, time on the water is mostly limited to weekends, holidays, and days off from work. With time on the water so valuable, I get the most out of boating by having a Plan A and a Plan B so that I may adapt to changes in circumstances should a planned activity or destination not be in the cards on a particular day.

Plan Ahead

I treat a day on the water much like a day at work when it comes to planning — I make lists. I make them when I am standing in line in the supermarket, on the train, and just about anywhere else I have my iPhone handy to type a note. Lists are an important way to stay focused; for me, lists are also a good indicator of what I consider important at that time. Your lists can be of places to visit by boat, waterside restaurants, boat parts or playthings to purchase, or maintenance to perform prior to heading out. My lists usually become sparks to head to new destinations.

Another part of planning a day on the water is addressing whether you’ll have company, and if so, whether you need anything from them. Generally, I find people are generous and want to be helpful when you invite them out for a day on the water. But boaters know that there can definitely be too much of a good thing, such as when guests bring lots of food, drinks, and supplies, requiring you to run to and from a parked car in a marina, and then possibly transferring everything from a dinghy or launch onto the boat. And if storage aboard is limited, you’ll spend the day dodging coolers full of more food than everyone can possibly eat.

To avoid being overrun by your guests’ generosity, I find honesty is the best policy. If someone asks, “What can I bring?” I answer “Nothing, but if you feel you need to bring something anyway, just bring cheese and crackers.” I can always shove cheese and crackers right into the cooler I’ve already planned to bring, and my boat is not overloaded. No harm, no foul!

I also tell my guests how many other people are joining us that day, and request that they please limit their carry-on cargo to compact necessities. If a guest approaches with a bag or item that appears to be too large, I’ll politely suggest that they bring aboard only what they absolutely need and leave the rest on land so it won’t get wet or pose a safety hazard.

Have a Backup Plan

If there is one universal experience in boating and life, it’s that days rarely go exactly as anticipated. So plan for the unforeseen and the unexpected.

Start by knowing your boat. I don’t mean just the make, model, length, and beam. What I mean is knowing how much fuel it has at any given time, how many passengers it can carry when also loaded up with food, equipment, and the supplies and accessories for a day’s planned activities. For example, my boat is rated by the U.S. Coast Guard for a maximum of eight persons, but when we plan for a day at the beach, transporting even six people comfortably is a bit of a challenge. Also, as there’s only a Bimini top for shade, I don’t want anyone baking in the sun. And since I usually only fill up the gas tank halfway at any given time (I hate using gas to push gas I don’t think I need), I must be careful in planning the day’s route.

But all that’s part of Plan A.  What happens if things change, say, because a morning shower shortened your day or a destination is too crowded? At best, it’s a nuisance to go back to the dock and unload the equipment for your planned activity and reload with different supplies, and with all that back and forth to the dock, you may have burned so much fuel you’ll waste even more time at the gas dock. And what if you now can’t safely transport all the people you have onboard? Imagine how awkward it would be to tell family and friends they can’t enjoy a day on the water because of changed circumstances.

That’s why I always discuss and agree upon a backup plan — Plan B — prior to initially leaving the dock. I sort through what equipment might be useful for both the original activity and the backup endeavor (the level of discussion and selecting of items is in proportion to the likelihood that plans will have to be changed). As an example, if the boating portion of the day is starting later than I’d like, and I don’t think going to Barrett Beach on Fire Island is feasible, my wife and I will discuss other options, such as cruising up and down various canals on the South Shore or heading out to the Moriches Bay area to drop the anchor.

Which brings me back to knowing your boat. Is there enough fuel to get out to Moriches and back? And how’s the weather? When cruising up and down canals, where breezes are often blocked by homes or other structures, it can get hot and rather uncomfortable. You don’t want to hear complaining and even arguing over the few seats in the shade.

It’s important to formulate Plans A and B prior to heading out. This eliminates debates or discussions while you are trying to navigate, and reduces the likelihood you’ll be caught short in any way. Also, there’ll be no misunderstandings or disappointments, as everyone aboard is prepared in the event Plan A doesn’t pan out. Happy people is what makes an enjoyable boating day!

By Joseph Greco

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