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Advice/tips for first time boat owner

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In two weeks I'm about to start my adventure as a first time boat owner, so I am extreme newbie.  I have an aunt & uncle that have done extremely well for themselves and are looking to retire in the next 3-5 years.  Part of this process is they are starting to downsize the # of toys they have.  They knew I was interested in their boat, so I called them and started negotiating price.  Out of nowhere, they say "we've decided to just give you the boat."  I'm still in shock but am excited and nervous at the same time (so much to learn).  The boat is a 2002 bass tracker pro crappie 175 with a 25hp motor.  They only used it a handful of times and it could pass as brand new.

Having said this, do you guys have any tips/tricks/advice for an extreme newbie? I know the first few times I'm going to go and fish at a lake that has very little activity as I've heard people can become impatient and rude at boat loading/unloading areas in a hurry so believe I should stay away from the lake closest to me that is extremely busy.  

I really appreciate any information you guys could provide.





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#1, Learn the rules of the road (yep there are rules on the water) and how to read marker and channel bouys as so you're where you're supposed to be.

#2  Learn to back a boat up.  Know everything that needs to be undone prior to pulling up to the ramp that can be done in the staging area as so you take as little time as possible to launch and get out of the way as quickly as possible when lauching and recovering the boat.

#3  NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE THE WEATHER!!! Respect Mother Nature or she will make you pay. With that said, make sure you have all the life saving equipment required and have it onboard and know how to use it.  I wear my life jacket anytime I'm running and the kill switch hooked to my vest.  I don't plan on falling out of the boat at 65mph, but if I happen to do I will have a life jacket and my boat won't come back to run me over with nobody driving.

#4 Learn the boat, go through it, have tools you need for basic things.  Make sure you batteries are maintained and charged prior to going out.  Check the connections, make sure you have fuel and oil before you go out.  

#5 Buy a map of whatever lake you're going to fish and look it over.  Give you an idea of the lake layout before you get there as well as any hazards that may be there as well, but also show you areas that may be good to fish.

#6  Have fun and enjoy your time on the water.  The more you go out the more you will learn.

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^ x2

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