There’s still a little bit of summer left, and heading out onto the water for one last hurrah can make for a perfect day or weekend. However, whether you’re newly nautical or an experienced boater, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you have a safe and fun excursion.

1. Check the forecast

While meteorologists often get a bad rap for not always being the most accurate, it’s worth your while to see what the skies may have in store before embarking on a sailing adventure. Depending on how far out you go, it might not be so easy to turn around and head back to port in a timely manner if a storm pops up, so it pays off to pay attention to the daily weather report.

2. Create a “just-in-case” plan

Sure, all will probably go, um, swimmingly (pun totally intended). However, are you prepared to deal with a dead motor, tidal currents, or any number of other unexpected issues that might arise? Being clueless in the face of crisis is never a good look, especially when you’re the one in charge. Set aside a few hours before your next adventure to devise a worst-case-scenario list, just to be on the safe side. This includes a communication strategy for getting in touch with folks on land when cell phones fail. The result is peace of mind not only for yourself, but for your friends and family as well.

3. Watch your alcohol consumption

It’s all fine and good to kick back and enjoy a nice refreshing beer with your buds, but it’s also important to keep the boozin’ in check when you’re out on the water. As you likely already know, your judgment can be impaired after just one drink, and this holds particularly true when you’re navigating a large, potentially dangerous object over the high seas. Err on the side of caution, and remember that moderation is your friend.

4. Get educated

Knowledge really is power. Prepare yourself for everything and anything that you might encounter out there with a Boating Safety Course, which are offered for free online through If you’re the operator of the boat, you’ll need to take an-inperson training course anyways, but it can’t hurt to learn the ropes — even if you’re only planning on being a passenger. Better safe than sorry!