So you’ve taken the plunge and purchased your first rigid inflatable boat at a boat show a month or two ago. Your new craft should be arriving now-ish! Before you hit the high seas (or lakes, or rivers), here are a few bits of advice for new boaters.
Acquiring basic boating safety knowledge before you launch isn’t just a good idea—it’s the law. All operators of pleasure craft fitted with any type of motor and used for recreational purposes are required to carry proof of competency on board.
You can find details of Transport Canada’s Operator Competency Program and a list of accredited course providers on the Transport Canada website.
Licence to Thrill
Another legal matter—all pleasure craft powered by a 10 HP or more engine are required to have an display a Pleasure Craft Licence Number. It’s not just bureaucracy for its own sake—the licence number allows law-enforcement and rescue personnel to access important information in an emergency.
Good news: the licence is free and good for 10 years. For info, application forms, and answers to common licensing questions, visit Transport Canada’s Pleasure Craft Licence page.
Not a Scratch on Her!
Examine your newly delivered RIB carefully for any damages. If you find anything, take some pictures and let us know immediately so we can set things right straightaway.
Some Light Reading
Read—don’t skim—your owner’s manual. This is where you’ll figure out if there are any parts missing, how to properly inflate your tube and check for airtightness, and pick up operating tips specific to your model.
Ready for Launch
Depending on your experience with trailers, you may want to get some dry-land manoeuvring practice in before you end up a the front of a long line of impatient boaters at the public launch ramp. That said, you have as much right to be there as anyone else, and if you need to take your time to ensure a safe launch, so be it.
This Discover Boating page has lots of great tips for your first launch.
Bring a cell phone and a portable GPS along, especially if you’re on open water. In case of emergency, you’ll be able to call for help and tell them exactly where you are.
Share the Knowledge
The best way to help keep your passengers safe is to explain a few basics: basic controls, how to put the motor in neutral or turn it off, how to use the radio. Also let people know where your cell phone, GPS, lifejackets, and other emergency equipment are stowed. On the off chance something happens to you, your passengers will appreciate you taking the time to get them up to speed.
Get on the Water!
It’s time to put all this preparation to good use and start enjoying your boat! Take your time at first; get a sense of how your RIB handles, practice your manoeuvring, figure out the speed at which she planes most smoothly. Your skill and confidence will only grow with experience. Boat safe and have a great time!
Have any other advice for new boat owners? Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments. And, if you didn't take the purchasing plunge at the boat shows, Dueck Marine Division has a big selection of 11' to 19’ deluxe units ready to go and a limited supply of 9.5' to 10.5' inflatables.