Face it: You’re never going to spend time ashore in the kitchen cleaning out the junk drawer, and with all the potato chips in the cabinet right next to it, that dream of losing 15 pounds is about as realistic as the one you have about walking on water.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions for boaters that you have a much better chance of actually being able to keep.

Still recovering from the damages left behind by Hurricane Irma, the boat shows must go on in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

March your calendars in 2018 to attend one of the many boat shows taking place throughout the year.

Attend a Boat Show

New York City in January. Miami in February. Palm Beach in March. Newport in September. Fort Lauderdale in November.  If you throw in smaller—but still quite sizable—boat shows at places including St. Petersburg, Chicago, Baltimore and beyond, you have dozens of chances to attend a boat show in 2018. These shows of course are chock-a-block with great new models to check out, and they’re also lined with vendors offering the latest and greatest gear and safety equipment.

You never know what might help improve your time on the water until you see it at a boat show. Be sure to check out the upcoming dates for events run by Show Management and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Reread Chapman’s Book

Chapman Piloting’s Seamanship and Small Boat Handling—first developed in 1917 by Motor Boating editor Charles F. Chapman—has gone through dozens of editions during the past century. Today’s version not only outlines the rules of the road, maritime regulations and emergency procedures, but also digs into electronics equipment, satellite technology and more.

Illustrations make Chapman’s a must-have reference book on any bridge, and its glossary of boating terms is a must-read for any new skippers (or young members of the family crew). Boating schools nationwide use this book to help boaters be smart and safe on the water. You should, too.

Goodies at the helm station include dual Garmin GPS units and Mercury Marine’s advanced Axius and SkyHook systems.

Sure, your helm might look intimidating—but don't let it scare you away. Make it your New Year's resolution to master your helm and become the ultimate captain.

Learn About Your Helm Electronics

The great thing about today’s multifunction displays, fish finders, radars and autopilots is that they have more features than ever before in boating history. And in a lot of cases, the units are more intuitive than ever, too, making them easier to learn.

Even still, most of us fail to go through the full tutorials that reveal the true power of all the gadgets and gizmos whose screens blink back at us from the helm’s dash. Don’t worry if you’ve lost the paper manual or guide; many manufacturers have digital versions now that you can call up online for free. Even if you learn just one or two more functions that you have, but didn’t realize were there, you’ll be getting more for your money while boating in 2018. To get started, read How to Basics: Using Your Fishfinder.

Set a Course for Someplace New

The beauty of boats, at least compared to villas or hotels, is that the boats move. Their deep-V hulls and diesel power plants are meant to take us to exciting new destinations up and down the coasts and throughout the islands.

When was the last time you cruised beyond your normal haunts? Even setting the plotter for a town or two farther up the Intracoastal Waterway can lead to interesting adventures, new restaurants to enjoy, unusual shops to explore and more memories to last a lifetime. Begin charting your next adventure by reading How to Navigate a Boat.


Where's your paradise? Don't wait any longer to find it. In 2018, set sail for your adventure. Neil Rabinowitz photo.

Start Planning for the Big One

You’ve always dreamed of taking that big cruise—maybe all the way along the Intracoastal Waterway, or up the Pacific Coast to Alaska, or across the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas, or beyond the Bahamas to the Virgin Islands and Caribbean.

Trips of that magnitude require a few things, including outfitting and/or refitting the boat, making sure things are organized ashore for the long period of time you’ll be gone, and having your day-to-day itineraries well thought out with paper charts and cruising guides (nicely dog-eared and highlighted). If a bucket-list cruise is part of your dreams, then spend 2018 working toward making it a reality.

To help, check out last year's Postcards for Next Year series: