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A Guide for the Off-Season Boater

By The Ahoy! Crew
Published December 31, 2022

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, the off-season boating blues burrow deep in your chest. You reminisce on the days spent chasing adventure and cutting through glistening water aboard your boat. Now when you pass your favorite summer boating spot, you notice the thin layer of ice already formed on the surface--and the hole in your chest grows. Fortunately, you can fill that hole with a variety of activities that will turn the dreariness of the off-season into productivity and ultimately more adventure once you’re back on the water. Read ahead for nine activities to battle those no-boating blues. 

And don’t forget to check out “A Guide for Winterizing your Boat for the Off-Season”, which includes step-by-step instructions to make winterization a breeze this year.

1. Complete Inventory:

After a whole season of constant use, your vessel is getting a break--which is a great opportunity to address your inventory. Undoubtedly, there are items that need to be repaired or replaced, and now you have the time to do it.  Even if you are in California or Florida, or another place with year round boating, it's important to take some time for annually maintenance.

Start by examining your life jackets and lines for wear, being careful to note rips, tears, mold, and fraying. Check electronics for software updates and test different features to guarantee everything functions properly. Then lay out all your safety equipment and see what needs to be replaced. The Coast Guard recommends replacing flares every three boating seasons, so make sure to stock up if it’s time. 

Finally, pull out your fire extinguisher(s), which probably need to be recharged. Even if the pressure gauge is in the green, it’s still a good idea to take the extinguisher to a fire maintenance expert or a seller of firefighting equipment. These professionals will inspect your extinguisher and confirm if it’s still in good working condition. 

2. Buy or Sell a Boat

You probably spend chilly afternoons bundled by the fire fantasizing about the perfect boat for the next boating season--or maybe you feel ready to part ways with your current boat and upgrade to something larger or more sophisticated. Either way, the off-season is a great time to make a change by finding your next vessel or parting with your current one. Buy a boat or sell a boat this off-season--just remember to research and make a smart and level-headed decision. Mosey over to our guide “The Do’s and Don’ts of Buying a Used Boat from a Private Seller” to make sure you don’t make any rookie mistakes when navigating the market solo, and also check out “Pontoon Boat Buying Guide” if you’re interested in a pontoon boat for the next season. 

3. Take a State Safe Boating Course

A holistic education makes a big difference when it comes to handling emergencies on the water. This off-season, commit yourself to enroll in a state-specific boating safety course, either online or in person. This education will put you at an advantage in the new season, empowering you to prepare better, travel farther, and handle emergency situations with grace and tact. This course will broaden your knowledge about boat maneuvering, navigation, safety at sea, and more. There are a variety of options available and some of them are even free! A quick Google search will guide you. Most courses will even provide you certification at the end as proof of your educational enrichment--just don’t forget to print that safe boating certificate when you’re done, so Ahoy! can use it to provide you with a more favorable boat insurance quote!

4. Explore Winter Sports 

Battle your off-season blues by embracing winter and the exciting sports that only this season can offer. Snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding are just a few of the many lively sports that can only be enjoyed in the winter months. Head to your local sporting goods supplier, stock up on whatever gear you need, and get exploring your backyard in a new and fun way.

5. Travel to Warmer Horizons

Travel to a warmer climate is the most surefire way to cure your off-season blues--especially if you can charter a boat during your trip. Challenge yourself to charter a boat in a warmer destination this off-season, where your seasonal winter depression will be a distant memory. A boating excursion in a new place might just be the winter pick-me-up you need to tide you over until the next boating season. Exciting and exotic destinations to consider include the Caribbean, Seychelles, Thailand, and French Polynesia, to name a few. 

6. Attend a Boat Show

Boat shows are a fantastic way to connect with the boating community in the off-season. Attending shows and demonstrations at the boat show may provide helpful information for you to use in the upcoming season, and marveling at the different boats present may inspire you for your own boat projects. Depending on your location, you can even make a road trip out of it--and travel is, after all, the best way to fight those off-season blues. To learn more about boat shows, check out “Boat Shows--What Are They All About?”.

7. DIY Boat Projects

Many skippers postpone boat improvement and boat maintenance projects during the season unless absolutely necessary. Now that your vessel isn’t in use, it’s a great opportunity to take on some of the larger DIY projects on the list. Maybe that includes sanding and varnishing the toerails, or painting the hull. After you complete your inventory, spend some time with your boat and jot down DIY projects that you can tackle over the next few months. Whether you own a cabin cruiser, bass boat, sail boat, or any type of boat, you probably already have some coming to mind now.

8. Take a First Aid Course 

As we mentioned before: a holistic boating education is a safe boating education. Though we stress safety and caution with our passengers onboard, accidents still occur. Consider enrolling in an in-person or online first aid course this off-season, which will empower you to treat your crew, your passengers, and even yourself should any basic medical needs arise during your maritime adventures. First aid courses are available through the Red Cross, your local healthcare facility, or community centers.

9. Take a Firefighting Course

Even though your fire extinguisher has probably gone unused over the years, fires are liable to occur at any moment. Enrolling in a firefighting course this off-season is a great way for you to build skills and be prepared. Knowing about the different classes of fire and how to fight them could be the key between losing your vessel and saving it. Furthermore, a firefighting course will instruct you on fire prevention, which is crucial knowledge to have onboard a vessel. There are courses available online and in your area--you can even ring up your local fire department and they will point you in the right direction. 


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