06/26/2013 05:34 EDT

A First Timer's Guide To Boating

Embraced young cheerful couple riding a speedboat. The woman is pointing at the distance.

So, let’s say your only experience with a boat has been watching Titanic a few too many times. That would be enough to scare you away from water crafts of any sort, but it just so happens you've been invited on a casual boat trip this summer. What do you do? How do you prepare? Is it okay to shout, "I'm the king of the world" as you set sail? Are you supposed to? Here are 5 tips on how to make your first boating experience a success, and not an embarrassment to you and everyone you love and care about.

Know The Rules

Transport Canada has a different set of rules for pleasure crafts and non-pleasure crafts. You're likely to be on a pleasure craft. The rule that you will likely be most concerned about is the one that governs alcohol use on board. Like driving a car, the operator of a boat (not likely to be you) will face fines and possible imprisonment if driving while intoxicated. Also, in most provinces, alcohol may be legally consumed on board a pleasure craft only if: The vessel has permanent sleeping and cooking facilities; a permanent toilet; and is anchored or secured alongside a dock.

Know Your Limit

If you do drink while on the water, be sure to keep it in check. Stumbling around on dry land may land you face first on the pavement. Doing so on a boat will get you into a whole lot more trouble and danger. If you've never been on a boat, your sense of balance is likely to be wonky, even before you sip a beer. It's best to wait until you get your sea legs before you indulge, and if you find you have motion sickness, best not to drink or eat until your stomach settles.

Bring Medicine

You may not know how your body will react to the water until your captain raises anchor and drives off from the surety of the dock. If your stomach can't take the water, it's going to be one long cruise. Motion sickness is an awful thing to deal with. Bring Dramamine, or another motion sickness relief tablet, or see if your friends who are inviting you along carry some with them. Once motion sickness hits, it's not likely to go away fast.

Carry Sunscreen

You're not going to find shade once you drift away from the skyscrapers and the cool provided by branches of trees. The sun will beat down on you in the open water. It can be harsh and if you're not prepared you can burn or even suffer heat stroke. Bring the proper sunscreen lotion for your skin, along with enough towels and water to ensure you stay hydrated. If you think you might be on a long boat trip, it's also a good idea to bring along a bag with long-sleeved shirts and jeans, in case the weather shifts later in the day and becomes chilly.


A pleasure cruise in the harbour of your city or on a lake in cottage country is a hugely enjoyable activity, especially if you are in the company of friends. Relax, and remember that thousands and thousands of people partake in boating activities every summer in Canada with only very few accidents occurring. Your knees will feel wobbly, your head might swoon, your friends may laugh at your newbie missteps, but it's all part of the fun. And, like many new experiences, you are likely to discover something about life you didn't know before, and perhaps feel less like a fish out of water next time you're out at sea.

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