6 Boating Tips To Ensure a Smooth Spring Launch

February 20th, 2015 | Cobra Electronics | Chicago, IL

If you live in a locale that experiences below-freezing temperatures for too many months out of the year, then you’ve probably been day-dreaming for weeks about taking your boat out for the inaugural cruise of the season.

But if you haven’t been on the water in a few months, there are a few essential prep items to attend to before jumping in to boating season. According to Vann Burgess, U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division, “Almost always boating errors are caused by being in a hurry, not paying attention, or both.”

In order to ensure a smooth spring launch, we’ve noted a few of the most common reasons for boating accidents, and compiled a list of boating tips— from boating safety tips, to pre-departure boating checklists, to on-board entertainment— so that your first trip out on the water is smooth and enjoyable.

1. Insure your boat on land and (probably) in the water.

Most state laws don’t require boaters insurance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need it or that it isn’t a worthwhile investment. If you took out a loan to finance your boat, your lender might require boater insurance. Many marinas also require the boats docked there to have boater insurance.

There are two important things to think about when it comes to boat insurance before the first sail. First, determine if the boat is covered by an adequate insurance policy while being transported from winter storage to the dock. Car insurance normally overrides the boaters insurance when the boat is being trailered, but it will only be covered up to the normal limits.

BankRate recommends to get an umbrella policy to add on top of your auto policy with additional limits in the event that the transported boat was involved in a serious accident.

Also, if you lowered your policy for the winter months to exclude bodily injury or liability, make sure your policy is reinstated before your boat is docked.

2. Know your Surroundings- what is in front of, and below you.

There is nothing worse than running aground and damaging your boat— especially on the season's first outing! Use navigation charts to map your route ahead of time to avoid shallow water and rocks. Purchase a Marine GPS in order to help navigate while out on the water, but also have back up paper charts in the event that you lose power.

3. Be prepared for nighttime boating- don’t be left in the dark.

To add to point 2, according to U.S Coast Guard, Boat Safety Division member Van Burgess, getting lost in the dark is a pretty common mistake by boaters. Without the shoreline as a guide, boaters can’t figure out which direction is the correct way back. Worst of all, it can be difficult to communicate the exact location to rescue authorities without being able to locate any familiar surroundings.

If you’re an inexperienced nighttime boater, make sure to note when the sun sets on your first trip out on the water, and give yourself extra time to make it back to shore before then. Even if you are experienced at nighttime boating, never go to any new location for the first time in the dark. Make sure you always have the correct boating navigation devices on board and functioning in case you do get lost, and only stick to areas you know well.

4. De-Winterize your boat-before you get going for the season.

One of the main causes of boating accidents is mechanical failure. Fully inspect your boat before your spring launch by following a good de-winterize your boat checklist. One thing that almost every de-winterize list recommends is changing the engine oil if you didn’t at the end of last season, and checking your boat’s battery.

If you get mid de-winterization and realize that you need a new battery, check out this video of Top 10 Selling Marine Electronics accessories by Boating Magazine. It describes their top selling products, one of which is the AGM 105ah Battery and the 6.9 Quart Oil Extractor-- two accessories that will make your launch a little easier. It also includes two top sellers for Marine GPS options if you don’t have one on board.

5. Prep for boating emergencies— with Cobra Marine VHF Radios.

There are preventative measures that can, and should, be taken to lessen the chance of a boating emergency-- such as taking the boat out only in calm weather conditions, always performing a pre-departure checklist, maintaining lookout, never speeding, not overloading the boat, etc. But sometimes the unexpected still happens. There is no better time to prepare for emergencies on the water than before the season begins. Check if there is a working emergency communication method on board in case you get lost, severe weather strikes or you get into a boating accident.

MR F77W GPS Fixed Mount Marine Radio

MR F77W GPS Fixed Mount Marine Radio

The Cobra MR F77 GPS is a fixed mount marine radio with a Built-in GPS Receiver. The built-in GPS will record the radio’s exact location when the radio is connected to power. The radio will send the location to rescue authorities if a distress call is broadcast. The radio also has all NOAA Weather Channels to monitor all national weather hazards if severe weather is expected to strike. It also has instant access to channel 16 and channel 9 to monitor and communicate emergencies.



In the worst case scenario that an emergency forces you to abandon ship, it’s a good idea to also have a handheld, waterproof marine VHF radio. The Cobra MR HH500 FLT BT is a waterproof, floating radio with a bright orange design so that if it’s dropped it can be easily spotted and retrieved.

MR HH500 FLT BT Handheld VHR Radio

6 Watt Floating VHF Radio with Bluetooth® Wireless Technology & Rewind-Say-Again®


6. Bring new entertainment on board this year

For the first outing, the water probably will be too cold for a comfortable swim. In May of last year, Lake Michigan was still an uncomfortable 40 degrees. So without the fun of inflatable innertubes or paddle boards, you’ll have to bring your entertainment on board. 
Cobra AirWave® Box- Waterproof Bluetooth® Speaker

Cobra AIrWave® Box

The Cobra AirWave® Box can liven up any boat outing by streaming the songs of spring via Bluetooth® connection from a smartphone or tablet. This is a fully waterproof and floating speaker that can connect and stream music from a person’s smart device from up to 30 feet away. Keep phones or tablets in a safe, dry place while still providing the day’s soundtrack. 

CDR 900 Drive HD Dash Cam and
Waterproof Case

Another new accessory for this boating season is the CDR 900 Drive HD Dash Cam by Cobra with the fully-waterproof case. Boaters can mount the Drive HD right to their boat windshield and record unbelievable footage of the open sea or skyline views of a nearby city. Footage can even stream in real-time through the complementary app if there is wireless connection. It’s perfect for any river tours, swamp scenery or open ocean views you want to catch on camera!


What other tips do you have for a smooth spring boater launch? Share with us on Cobra Facebook and Twitter and tag #CobraMarine.