In our previous Post we discussed charts and who and how they are published in the United States. Similarly other countries have excellent Hydrographic Offices such as the UK Hydrographic Office publishing charts of the World as well as their local waters. Nearby both Canada, and Cuba have excellent sets of charts and publications and if going there get the proper clearances in accordance with your vessels Flag State obtain and use local charts. Canada by and large requires Canadian charts in Canadian Waters and if one should have a problem it is better that Canadian charts were in use for navigational plotting.
The really important point is to complete an approved Boating Course, more and more of these are available online and directed for your State being NASBLA/Coast Guard approved. This is a great way for first time boaters to learn and build confidence. NAUTICAL LOG is a great believer in classroom instruction particularly for 'The Rules of the Nautical Road' and of course chartwork plotting. So if there is classroom instruction or someone available to teach you personally most definitely take advantage of it. In the South Florida area (south of Lake Okeechobee) you can contact NAUTICAL LOG via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org put 'INSTRUCTION' in the subject line, we will be pleased to meet with you to set up to teach you both RoR, chartwork and any nautical subject you may wish to cover. But we strongly suggest you complete that online course first of all as that will give you key basic nautical knowledge.
Finally make sure you get Insurance coverage for emergiencies and towing because believe me you will need it !! There are links in our 'Link List' to the 'Yellow Guys' and the 'Red Guys' to find out how that coverage works. Walk around your marinas, spot the Yellow or Red hulled rescue boats, talk to the skippers and make sure you do not go to sea without it. Towing is very costly!!
So to summarize:
1. Take a Boating Course for the basics.
2. Learn Rules of Road.
3. Learn chartwork plotting.
4. Get Towing Insurance.
5. 'Google' and use those checklists.