It’s hard to describe the joy of boating unless you’ve been on the water. Many have caught the bug, with nearly 12 million registered boats in the United States. Small lake boats with outboard motors are the vessel you’re most likely to see. While you can get in the game for a reasonable price, it’s the other expenses that make some say, break out another thousand.
However, there are several things you can do and still enjoy boating on a budget. It involves planning to avoid unnecessary expenses. The good news is that the more you boat, the more you learn those little things that add up to significant savings. You’ll likely find that it’ll add up to some serious cash.
Don’t Buy Fuel on the Water.
You don’t have to be a boater long before you figure out that fuel on the water is expensive. Sometimes, it’s up to double the cost of what you’d pay on land. The best investment for small lake boats is a gas can or two. You can buy it at the station and fuel up at the dock at a fraction of the cost. Now that’s boating on a budget.
Take a Boater’s Safety Class.
Boating is a responsibility, just like driving on the road. However, you can avoid some needless expenses if you learn how to be safe on the water. Many organizations and states offer free online classes. Some places even require it. You’ll learn things like what different buoys mean to avoid hazards that could land your boat in the repair shop. Some of the most common causes of accidents involve safety issues.
Bring Your Food and Beverages.
As with fuel, dining on the water gets expensive. A much more affordable way to enjoy a day on the water is with a well-stocked cooler and a packaged lunch. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A sandwich and a six-pack of soda are all you need for boating on a budget. You can use the money you save to put more fuel in the tank to stay on the water longer.
Invest in a Fish Finder.
While newer models often have a depth gauge, small lake boats don’t always have one. A fish finder is a worthwhile investment for any boater. Not only will you know the depth, but you can also see submerged objects. The first time you have to replace a damaged prop is a sure convincer. Of course, it’s a must-have if you’re going fishing. Just be sure to take out or lock up the console between uses.
Brush Up on Small Engine Repair.
One advantage you have with small lake boats is that they are often easier to repair than larger cabin cruisers. It can save you a lot of money if you learn how to do the basic tasks yourself. You can start by getting a copy of your boat’s engine repair manual. They include detailed instructions that can walk you through the process.
Maintain Your Boat
The last thing you want to happen is to break down on the water. Tows aren’t cheap, to say nothing of the hassle. Doing regular maintenance on your boat will pay off in the long run and save you unnecessary expenses for boating on a budget. You may find it helpful to keep a log of common tasks, such as oil changes and filter replacements.
Find a Boat Buddy.
It happens to every boater one time or another. You’re on the water, having a great time, and then the boat won’t start. You flood the engine, but still no-go. That’s why it pays to have another boat buddy who can bail you out with a tow. Of course, the arrangement is mutual because boaters take care of other boaters.
Winterize Your Boat Yourself.
Winterizing small lake boats isn’t difficult and something that you can easily do yourself. Besides, you can get it done and put your craft in storage while everyone else is waiting to bring their boat into the shop. The same thing applies to the start of the season. Learn what you need to do to get on the water as soon as the season arrives.
Being on the water is an exhilarating experience. Unfortunately, it’s often an expensive one, too. Nevertheless, there are several things you can do to enjoy your time while boating on a budget. The chances are you’ll also find more ways to save the longer you spend with your hobby. It’s all a part of the fun of learning the ropes of being a bloater.