5 Boating Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

By Debbie Hanson

May 26, 2014

If you take your boat out on a regular basis, chances are pretty good that “IT” has happened to you more times than you’d care to mention.

If you take your boat out on a regular basis, chances are pretty good that “IT” has happened to you more times than you’d care to mention. What is “IT” you ask? Well, "IT" is one of those occasions when you were quietly fishing at one of your favorite spots and Mr. or Mrs. Rude Boater suddenly blasted past you creating an unsafe or inconsiderate situation on the water.

According to the US Coast Guard, operator errors account for 70% of boating accidents, which is precisely why it’s important to know and follow all boating laws for the safety (and consideration) of everyone who uses the waterways. If you are new to boating, learn the “rules of the road” and find out how to be a responsible boater by taking a boating basics class in your local area.


While there are many more boating mistakes that could be included, here are five of what may be the most common:

  1. Crossing the channel in front of incoming or outgoing vessels. Don’t cross the channel in front of incoming or outgoing boats, but rather yield to vessels in the channel since they have the right of way. When two power vessels are crossing, the vessel that has the other on her starboard side must stay out of the way and avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.

  2. Speeding past anglers in shallow water and running through grass flats. Operate your boat responsibly when in shallow waters. Speeding past anglers or other boaters in shallow water is not only disruptive; it can also cause serious damage to seagrass beds and to your boat.

  3. Running over another boat’s fishing lines. Seems like common sense, but you might be surprised how many boaters aren’t very aware of other boats or anglers. Pay attention and be aware of what is going on around you at all times.

  4. Anchoring in the middle of the channel. Do not to anchor your vessel in the middle of a navigable channel. Boating channels are the “roads” of the waterways and this could be compared to parking your car in the middle of the highway.

  5. Not being aware of shallows, shoals or rocks and running aground. First, know how deep your boat is below the waterline or how much your boat “drafts” so that you can take that into consideration. Second, do your “homework” ahead of each trip by researching the area where you plan to boat or fish. Read charts, study contours, monitor depths, and use your GPS.

Now that you know a few of the common boating mistakes that people make, you can avoid making these same mistakes yourself. What other boating mistakes or faux pas have you seen or experienced? Provide your feedback by joining the Take Me Fishing Community and adding your comments to this post.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.