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The Basics of Boating

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Here's a few things to know when you get in the (boat) driver's seat.

Right of way
The vessel being overtaken has the right of way. The boat approaching from the right -- starboard -- also has right of way; the boat coming from the left -- port side -- must make clear they intend to yield. If two boats approach head on, stay to the right. When in doubt, give way no matter who is in the right. Always yield to boats under power of sail and boats of limited manoeuvrability (the Segwun steamship, for example).

What to have onboard
You'll need more than just your shades and sunscreen. All boats are required by law to have specific safety equipment. Check out this list to find out which items are necessary for your boat.

Manoeuvrability
Although it may seem like a good way to slow down in a hurry, shifting into neutral won't necessarily reduce your speed, and steering control is reduced dramatically when the prop isn't turning.

The blower...
is a fan in an inboard or sterndrive engine's compartment that keeps the space free of potentially explosive fumes. Turn it on for about four minutes before starting the engine or you risk an engine fire, or worse. You don't have to leave it on while underway, but it won't hurt. Plus on new boats, it's so quiet you won't notice it anyway.

Trim
Nothing to do with your waistline, trim is the angle of the drive leg or propeller to the transom of the boat. It controls how high or low the bow rides. Generally, you have the trim "in" (drive leg closer to the transom) at low speeds or when coming onto a plane, and trim "out" for higher speeds.

Get more boating tips from Cottage Life:

21 items to keep on your boat

Outboard engine basics

Find a deal on a new boat

Original article by Michelle Kelly