We all love boating, but over time the usual cruising, fishing, and swimming can get a bit same-old, same-old. If you’re looking for a fun new way to enjoy the time you spend aboard, these 10 endeavors are guaranteed to inject some excitement into your spring.
1. Try Wake Surfing
The popularity of wake surfing has sky-rocketed in the past few years, to the point that boat-builders are designing boats with ballast tanks and specialized trim tabs to create larger, smoother wakes. In fact, new power systems have even been developed just for this sport (read Volvo Penta Forward Drive: Designed for Wake Surfing, to learn more). But just because your boat may not be specifically designed for this sport doesn’t mean you can’t still have gobs of fun wake surfing. If your boat makes a wake (and we’re pretty sure it does), you can probably surf it.
2. Go Golfishing
This “sport” combines golfing and fishing (as if you couldn’t tell from the name). Here’s how it works: you count how many casts it takes to catch a fish. Then, you pitch an inner-tube over the side of your boat, place a piece of artificial turf on the bow, and count how many strokes it takes to chip a golf ball (use the biodegradable ones, of course) through the tube. Combine the numbers, and you get your score. Of course, this isn’t the only sport you can combine with boating; Frisbee, basketball, and even jousting are also proven nautical events. Read 7 Wacky Ways to Have Fun on a Boat (Don’t Tell Mom), and let the games begin.
3. Join a Poker Run
While most of the poker run participants are speed-freaks, no one says you need to have a 100-MPH boat to join in the fun. In fact, at most of these events you’ll have just as much chance of winning from the helm of your cruiser as those guys in their Cigarettes. Because it’s the winning poker hand—not the first one finished—that takes the prize. All you have to do is complete the cruising course, getting a new card at each predetermined stop. At the end of the day you put your cards together, and whoever has the best hand wins. Read The Big Picture: Fun Travels in Fleets to learn more.
4. Extreme Adventures
Get a little crazy, by having an extreme adventure like shark fishing, kite surfing, back-country exploring, and more. Our 5 Extreme Boating Adventures article will point the way.
5. Alternative Harvest
The fish aren’t biting? There are plenty of other sea dwellers that are fun to harvest and great to eat. You can try tonging for oysters, for example. Or, maybe the thought of steaming up a pot of crabs tempts your palette. We tell you how to fill a bushel basket and we offer up an awesome recipe for steamed crabs in Crabbing 101: Trot Line, Pull Traps, and Chicken Necking. Digging for clams, snorkeling for spiny lobster, hand-catching bay scallops—depending on where you do your boating, there’s bound to be a wide range of alternative species you could pursue.
6. Take on a Project
Yes, maintenance chores and boat repairs can be a real pain in the kiester. But taking on a project can also be a lot of fun. Perhaps more importantly, it can help draw the family closer together as you work for a common goal. So grab the kids, hand out the screw-drivers, and start fixing stuff. To read up on the pain and pleasure of do-it-yourself boat repairs, have a look at Boat Ownership Advice: Embrace the Hacksaw.
7. Trading Places
If you’re a powerboater, become a sailboater for a day. And if you’re a sailor, become a temporary powerboater. This is actually pretty easy to accomplish; walking the docks and chatting it up with people of the opposite persuasion will get the job done. Offer your services in trade, and many sail/power boaters will be interested in jumping over to “the dark side” for an afternoon, out of curiosity. We even tried this with a couple of our editors once (He Said, She Said: Sailing Versus Fishing) and everyone involved had a great time discovering how the other half lives.
8. Sweet Dreams
If your boat has a big cabin this may be a common occurrence, but statistics show that most boaters never spend a full night aboard. Even if your boat is a center console or a bowrider and has no accommodations at all, however, choosing a far-off destination and camping on the deck is a great way to enjoy a weekend. You’ll need to do some planning ahead of time and determine what you’ll use for shelter (a sleeping bag under the Bimini works just fine, but if there’s nothing overhead everything onboard will become covered by dew) and you need to know how to find a good anchorage. Beyond that, all you’ll need is a full gas tank and a packed cooler.
9. Go Native
While it’s most certainly fun to go zipping around in your boat, it’s an entirely different kind of fun to explore in a self-propelled craft. So the next time you pull into a creek, river, or cove, why not deploy a kayak or stand-up paddleboard? Paddling along a shoreline or into a cut in the mangroves will help you become one with nature, and enjoy a peaceful commune with the waterway. If you’re not sure which kind of paddling you’d like to do, check out Simple Boating: Which is More Fun, Kayak or SUP?
10. Get Generous
If you own your own boat, you’re among the lucky ones. There are countless people out there who can only wish for such a thing, and bringing them out for a day is extremely rewarding. There are fishing events like Wish-A-Fish, where the Wish-A-Fish foundation matches you and your fishing boat up with special-needs kids for an afternoon on the water. Go-fast owners can check out a number of speedboat charity events, which may include groups like the Wounded Warriors Project and Shore Dreams for Kids. And there are plenty of sailing events, too, like the Sail for Hope race, benefitting first-responders.
We love our boats because they give us so much enjoyment and pleasure, so don’t let your boating ways fall into a rut. The next time things seem a bit boring onboard, get the family to try one of these 10 fun boating activities—and get ready to see smiles, all around.
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