Taking up different boating activities and water sports later on in life is a great way to give your mind and body a workout. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you will stay active and have fun outdoors as well.
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Whilst these activities are suitable for almost all adult ages, here we look at what some of the best boating activities are for the over 50s, the benefits of taking them up and some of the sensible issues to think about to keep yourself safe on the water from safety gear to comparing boat insurance.

Sailing boats and motorboats

These types of boats have grown in popularity over recent years, but there are some big differences between the two options to consider before making any purchase, as although they can seem similar, they are in fact quite different.  They both offer a different way of exploring the water, sailing boats tend to have less space but offer a wonderful experience, whilst motorboats are generally perceived as being faster and have larger engines for example. We have outlined other points to consider as well:

Sailing boat advantages include:

  • Ability to travel further: A sailing boat will never run out of fuel, so boaters can travel further and longer before needing to get supplies
  • More cost efficient engines: As they have much smaller engines, they need less fuel to run, and are cheaper to maintain
  • Better for the environment: The most obvious advantage is that sailing boats create no emissions making them a very responsible way to explore the water and get out there
  • Peace and quiet: You can always just enjoy the feeling of the wind and the sound of the waves on the boat if you want some serenity and peace and quiet. There is no drone of an internal combustion motor to break the tranquillity of the journey, so you can be surrounded by peace and quiet on the water

Sailing boat disadvantages:

  • They need a lot of time and energy: Sailing is a physical activity. The sails and steering require constant adjustment, and you must concentrate on the water and weather around you. Even though there are significant savings in the engine department, money will still be spent to maintain sails and rigging. They do have long shelf lives, but it is still something to consider
  • Restrictive space: Masts and sails and rigging and pulleys – there’s a lot happening on the deck of a sail boat, and this means that a lot of deck is taken up already by these
  • Less shelter: Enjoying the water and the elements is a part of the joy of sailing, but sometimes there can be no shade on the deck of a sail boat, so this can become too much if the weather is extremely warm or if there is lots of rain for example

Motorboat advantages

  • Speed and space: These types of boats will always be faster than a sail boat, they also have less parts on the main deck, and so have larger and more comfortable living spaces to enjoy
  • Less planning: As long as you have fuel and the boat is in good condition, you can head out on the water. You need to be mindful of the weather conditions as well as the direction and speed of the wind, heading out only if conditions seem safe, but otherwise you are good to go
  • Simplicity: Motorboats require less training and experience to use them compared to sail boats. The majority of the knowledge needed is to understand how everything works on the water and when it is safe to sail

Motorboat disadvantages

  • Noise: Larger boats have the extra room on board to isolate boaters from the sound of a powerful engine, but on smaller boats this means the noise can be pretty loud. When testing it out, try and gauge how loud the boat sounds so you understand what it will be like to have this out on the water with you
  • Fuel: Fuel can be expensive, but without it your motorboat will not move. So you need to factor in this and making sure you have a backup supply on your boat as well, which needs to be stored safely
  • The engine: Regular maintenance will be needed on your engine to keep it in good condition. You need to factor time and finances into this when budgeting for a boat, as a replacement engine can be expensive

Jet skiing

As a fun and physical activity, jet skiing can be done while on a family holiday or when enjoying the beach with friends. There is a lot of thrill and energy that comes with the speed of a jet ski, and you will never get bored while out on the water with one. People are increasingly noticing that taking up jet skiing can provide a wide range of health benefits as well. For example:

Jet skiing advantages:

  • Physical exercise:Jet skiing will certainly provide you with a good workout on the water.  This in turn will help you increase blood circulation, all whilst having fun at the same time. Most people don’t know that the average person can burn 238 calories over a half an hour jaunt on a jet ski
  • Improves balance: Crouching and sitting on a jet ski and trying to manoeuvre it around water is a hard task. You will learn how to balance and coordinate your body as you move the jet ski through the water at different speeds
  • Stress relief:Jet skiing involves you having to focus on the job in hand, and many people have found that doing this, combined with being out on the open water is a great stress reliever against the modern day hustle and bustle of normal life

Jet skiing disadvantages:

  • Popularity: Whilst jet skiing is a sport that can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, they aren’t always popular with everyone because they can be perceived as dangerous, and they do get some negative attention because of this. The government even launched a consultation to clamp down on dangerous use of jet skis back in 2021
  • Comparison to other boats: They are classed as more dangerous than boats or any other vessel on the water because of the volume and the types of accidents they are involved in
  • Noise: They are extremely loud, and this tends to put people off, people who may wish to buy one or people just watching it can find the noise a lot to deal with

Other points to think about

Whatever boating activities you decide to take up, you should always look into the insurance requirements first, and not as an afterthought. More often than not, there will be no legal requirement to have insurance – unlike with car insurance. However, it is advisable to take it out. Being on the water can cause different issues and problems to being on land, and so in this sense insurance is essential. If your jet ski, motorboat or sailing boat for example becomes damaged by the weather or in another boating accident, you will find yourself adrift with no help and advice without the right boat insurance policy suited for your needs. Similarly, even if you wish to take up a smaller type of boating activity such as canoeing or kayaking, it is best to consider a standalone policy to protect your boat from the elements and any other accidental damage that might occur on the water. This way you will be able to have genuine peace of mind whilst you take up and enjoy new activities on the water in your 50s and beyond.

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