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Top Tips for Weekend Boat Trips

Top Tips for Weekend Boat Trips

Whether you’re going from Florida to Freeport, Texas to Tampico, or California to Cabo, ensuring that all marine and vessel-related aspects are thought about, planned, and accounted for is crucial for having a safe and fun trip. In this article, we cover four key aspects of preparation for your weekend boat trip, with tips and lists under each. These components include information about your destination, essential items, planning, and vessel preparation. Read on to learn more about what each of these components entails and their respective elements!


Quick Links – Weekend Boat Trip Tips

Destination | Essentials | Planning | Preparation



Choosing a destination may not be an issue but determining the route you’ll take to get there requires a significant amount of thought, planning, and preparation. Unfortunately, Google maps and Waze won’t help you when out at sea. However, updated marine technology, boating apps, and navigation systems make it easy to chart a boating trip. Make sure the chart (and your electronics) is the latest version so that it reflects changes in navigational hazards, such as newly discovered rocks, shipwrecks, and channel changes due to dredging, erosion, landslides, or construction. Get to know your route and pay special attention to shipping lanes, unexpected shallow areas, and areas known for strange currents. Lastly, just in case something happens to your navigation system, keeping a physical nautical map in a safe and dry place is never a bad idea.

The Essentials


The foundation of a successful and safe weekend boat trip lies within your level of preparedness. Being equipped with proper supplies for boating in bad weather, health, or safety events can truly make a difference if an unexpected situation arises. Below is a list of absolute necessities that should be aboard your vessel.


  • Life Jackets
    • As a boat owner, it is your responsibility to have enough USCG-certified jackets on board for every person onboard, adults and children. Ensure everyone on board has a life jacket that fits properly and is secure before leaving. Read more about life jacket requirements by state. You will also need to have at least one throwable flotation device on board.
  • First Aid Kit
    • Standard marine first aid kit essentials include: antiseptic wipes/ointment/spray, saline solution, variety of adhesive bandages in different sizes, surgical tape, wrapped gauze, skin glue, scissors, tweezers, cotton swabs, sam splint, tourniquet, absorbent pads, syringe (without a needle), disposable gloves, burn cream, eye wash, foil space blanket, individually wrapped common medications (for treating stings, heartburn, diarrhea, allergies, etc.), insect repellant, sunscreen, ice pack, aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Benadryl, EpiPen, and motion sickness medicine (e.g. Dramamine).
  • Flares/VDS
    • Flares are a type of Visual Distress Signal (VDS) that are part of your boat’s safety equipment. Flares are devices boaters can use to signal for help in emergency situations. There are several types of flares for different purposes. Boats must always have a certain number of valid distress flares on board when over 1 nautical mile from shore. On average, flares last about 42 months, so it’s important to ensure that your flares are not expired and are up-to-date with the USCG regulations.
  • VHF Radio
    • A marine radio is a vital piece of safety equipment for every vessel. A VHF (Very High Frequency) radio is the primary way for you to communicate with other boat operators or a bridge tender, lock operator, harbormaster, race committee, and rescuing agencies like the Coast Guard or towing services. Arguably the most important safety item onboard your boat, a VHF radio is far more reliable than a cell phone which has limited on-water range and can experience dropped calls. Channel 16 on VHF marine radio (156.8 MHz) is recognized as the distress channel.
  • Fire Extinguisher
    • Fire extinguishers should be aboard each vessel. There are certain requirements for different sizes of boats, so be sure to know which class your vessel falls into and the type of requirements it requires.
  • Tool Kit
    • Standard marine tool kit essentials include: spark plug and fuses, jumper cables, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, socket set, moisture meter, flashlight/headlamp, tape, scissors/cutters, battery terminal puller, gorilla glue, crews, nuts, bolts, wire and hose clamps, multi-tool, cable ties, telescoping mirror, magnet, mask and snorkel, line, string, wooden plugs, volt ohmmeter, epoxy/fiberglass repair kit, hacksaw of bolt cutters, splicing fid, thread locking fluid, hex or allen keys, and clamps.
  • Clothing for Various Weather
    • This significantly depends on where it is you’re going but packing for a range of different weather conditions is always a good idea. Better safe than sorry! Your prepared inventory of clothing could include any of the following items and accessories: rain gear, hat, sweatshirt, socks, sunglasses,
  • Identification/Registration Certificate
    • Be sure to have your valid boat registration certificate along with you, as well as your personal ID or passport. Your registration certificate is one of the most important boating essentials since it proves that you are following the state law regarding the operation of the vessel. If you’ll be doing any fishing, having a copy of your fishing license is also needed.
  • Extra Fluids and Non-perishables
    • Bringing extra water and food is never a bad idea. The last thing you want is for anyone on board to become dehydrated or go hungry.
  • Spare Anchor
    • This is self-explanatory. If something happens to your main anchor, whether it breaks off or you must cut the line for any reason, having a backup is key.
  • Ditch Bag
    • Ditch bags contain essential items that you would need for survival should the unthinkable happen while underway. Many of the items mentioned above should be stored in your ditch bag and kept in an easily accessible location, crucial for immediate removal should you need it. Read more about what should go in a ditch bag.



Planning your weekend boat trip can take a decent amount of time and consideration. There are some important factors that must be considered and figured out before setting off. Below is a list of certain situations that must be thought about and planned for in advance.


  • Fuel Stops
    • Unlike driving along a busy highway, accessible boating gas stations are more spread out. Mapping out fuel stops at marinas along your way and at your destination is a necessary part of planning your weekend boat trip. When planning your fuel stops, allow extra expenditures for bad weather, high winds, or spontaneous side trips without cutting it too close.
  • Float Plan
    • Before heading out on a boat trip, it’s always wise to leave a float plan with someone you trust – especially for longer trips. A Float Plan should be filled out before departing on your trip. You should leave it with someone who you can rely on to notify the proper authorities should you not return at the planned time. Fill one out and leave it with a family member, friend, or local marina before leaving the dock. If you get caught in a storm or run into an emergency situation, having a float plan filed with a responsible party could save your life. Your Float Plan should include the following information: full legal name and visual description of everyone on board, description and information about the owner and operator, vessel information (size, color, type, engine, registration number, etc.), up-to-date list of safety equipment on board, and trip details (departure and return date, destination, proposed route, stops along the way, etc.).
  • Where you plan to keep the vessel at night
    • Wherever it is that you may be going, you’ll want to decide how and where you plan to secure your boat at night. For example, some people prefer to dock at marinas, whereas some opt to find an open-water spot or mooring field to anchor at. Not all marinas are open 24/7 and some require a reservation, so planning travel and arrival time, while also having a backup plan or marina is always a smart idea. Carry at least two fenders on board for docking or towing if required.
    • If you plan on anchoring up for the evening, knowing the tides, current, boat traffic, and weather forecast is crucial. Anchoring at high tide can sometimes mean getting the boat stuck once the tide drops. Being aware of the current, even if on a secluded body of water, is important because the ebb and flow of the water can impact the position and direction of your boat. Boat traffic is an ever-changing circumstance that could be potentially dangerous for you and other boaters. Ensuring that you’re not situated in the main channel seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always important to double-check, especially if you’re traveling in waters you’ve never been before. While boating at night, keeping boat/navigation lights on is also important to assure that other boaters can see your vessel. Lastly, weather conditions, especially the wind, could create more drag on your boat than anticipated. Faster or changing wind conditions can put your boat in a completely different position from where you planned if you don’t supervise the boat or plan for changing conditions.

Vessel Preparation


You want to make sure that your boat is in tip-top condition before setting sail. This requires thorough and proper inspection of the vessel and all its various systems, including all mechanical and electrical systems and their counterparts. Below is a list of certain aspects and systems that must be inspected and accounted for in advance of your expedition. Read more about routine yacht maintenance and the importance of proper upkeep.


  • Look for cracks in the hull, hoses, and water and fuel tanks
  • Test the engine(s), generator if applicable, anchoring gear, heads, cooking facilities, and all electronics on board (e.g. multifunction displays, GPS/chartplotter, fish finder/depth sounder, AIS, battery and engine monitors, VHF radio, navigational lights, radar, compass, etc.)
  • Make sure all the fuel tanks are full. If choosing to bring along extra fuel, make sure it is accounted for and in a secure location
  • Go through all your filters to ensure they’re free of debris
  • Stock up on extra lines and replacement parts
  • Test bilge and freshwater pumps, check battery levels, and the charging processes
  • Inflate the dinghy and test the outboard since these may be the only way to get to shore where you’re going
  • Ask your OC boat insurance provider if they recommend any special maintenance steps
  • If you have a dual charging system, make sure the selector switch in the proper position
  • Check to make sure your horn works properly; an additional means of sound like a whistle or air horn is a wise backup

About Galati Yacht Sales


With over 50 years in the yachting industry, Galati Yacht Sales is known today as one of the largest, family-owned yacht brokerages in the world. We provide 15 locations throughout the Gulf Coast, California, Washington, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Galati Yacht Sales is also home to four yacht service yards for premier after-sale support for our Galati customers. We offer quality, new, and used yachts along with unsurpassed customer service. We proudly represent new VikingValhallaCruisersPrincess, and Prestige Yachts, as well as the Hargrave G120.

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