Congratulations if you’re among the many southwest Floridians who’ve recently purchased a new boat. Owning a boat can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but ensuring you’re prepared before the maiden voyage is vital. Following is a list of items to check off after your purchase:

  1. First, register your boat: Florida Statutes designates that FLHSMV is responsible for issuing vessel registrations and titles. Applications for titles and registrations must be filed at a county tax collector or license plate agent’s office. This will ensure that you are legally operating your boat on public waterways.
  1. Get your Boating Safety Education Card: To operate a motorboat of ten horsepower or greater in Florida requires anyone who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, to complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The course will teach you about navigation, safety equipment, and handling emergencies. You can find where and how to obtain the card here.
  1. Get boat insurance: Although not legally required in Florida, boat insurance is highly recommended (you may still be required to purchase a policy if you have a lien against the boat). It can protect you from accidents, theft, and damage to your new boat.
  1. Learn about your boat: It’s important to read the owner’s manual and learn everything you can about your craft. Understand how to operate it safely and efficiently, and familiarize yourself with all onboard equipment.
  1. Get your boat serviced: Before taking your boat out on the water, it’s important to get it serviced by a professional. Ideally, this will have been done prior to purchase by your boat dealer. This will ensure that everything is in good working order and that there are no potential problems that could cause issues when you’re on the water.
  1. Purchase necessary equipment: Make sure you have all the required equipment on board, such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, and a sound-producing device. You can find a complete list of required equipment here. You may also want to consider purchasing additional equipment such as a GPS/depth finder system or marine VHF radio.
  2. Plan your first trip: Once you’ve taken care of all the above steps, it’s time to plan your first trip! Make sure you have a destination in mind and know of any potential hazards or weather conditions you may encounter.
  3. Maintain your boat: Regular maintenance is critical to ensuring your boat stays in good working order. Make sure to clean it regularly, check for any damage or wear and tear, and store it properly when not in use. This is critical when operating in a saltwater environment.

Buying a new boat is an exciting experience, but taking the necessary steps to ensure you and your passengers stay safe while on the water is essential. Using the list above as a guide, you’ll be ready to enjoy your new boat for years. And remember to check back with GoBoatingFlorida.com for more tips and local boating info!

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