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Okay, you did it! You read our blog about what’s the Best Boat for a First-Time Boat Buyer, you contacted our expert staff, you pulled the trigger and bought the perfect boat for you. Now you just have one more thing before you’re out in the sun creating memories to last a lifetime -- You don’t know how to drive a boat.

No worries, friend -- we got you!  In this blog, we will show you:    

So, with that, let’s get started by, well, starting…

First, before we get into anything -- whatever and wherever your body of water is, it will more than likely have its own rules and regulations. Please make sure you do your due diligence and find whatever is required of you to operate your vessel. 

How to Start a Boat

While starting a boat is as simple as turning a key; unlike a car, there are a few other factors you need to take into account.

First, assuming your boat runs on gasoline and possesses an engine compartment -- you’ll need to run your blower, per the manufacturer’s instructions.  This helps assure there isn’t any buildup of fumes within the compartment. Check with your boat dealer for more information.

Next, you put the key in the ignition and check the emergency cutoff or “kill switch.”  This is typically located right next to the ignition. You want to make sure this is turned off or the boat won’t start. However, be sure to clip the lanyard attached to the kill switch to your life jacket. If anything were to happen to you while driving, the emergency cutoff would kill the engine.

Lastly, you have to make sure the throttle is in the right position -- which is neutral. Again, like our friend the cutoff switch, if it’s not in the proper position, your boat won’t start. Familiarize yourself with the throttle. The throttle is your power, your gas pedal. Tuck that away for later, though, because right now, let’s talk steering. 

How to Steer a Boat

Remember in the movie Dodgeball when Patches O’Houlihan threw a wrench at his team of rejects saying, “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”? Well, if you can steer a car, you can steer a boat.

However, unlike a car, your steering a vessel on a moving surface. This surface also creates these things called waves. And these waves will vary in size, speed, and direction. Keep calm, and keep patient. You’re steering a large, heavy machine. So moving on these unpredictable impediments will take a second. 

Speaking of patience, without question the number one issue you’ll have with steering a boat is contending with other boaters. For example, say you’re on a smaller body of water, such as a lake, and that lake is excessively busy -- not only will you need to be fully aware of both your and their moves, you’ll also have to contend with a few more of your friends we mentioned earlier -- waves. But just like learning how to drive your dad’s sedan -- it will take time, patience, and practice.

And we can help too. Contact Woodard Marine and we can definitely steer you in the right direction...See what we did there?

Anyway, now that we’ve got starting and steering done, let’s talk about slowing down. 

How to Slow Down a Boat

To slow down a boat is much more than just tapping the brakes.  Especially since boats don’t have them -- brakes.  Remember earlier when we discussed the throttle? Well, the throttle plays a key role in slowing down as you must grasp the throttle and pull it back. You come to learn over time that manipulating the throttle will assist you in a variety of circumstances and situations as you drive. For example, approaching another boat’s wake or an oncoming wave.

Ultimately though, it will come down to you and your boat. After some experience with it, you will discover your stopping distance at different speeds.

However, if you’re in a situation where an abrupt stop is needed, you will simply --

Be sure to announce all changes in speed to your passengers. Remember, there are no seatbelts, just life jackets. And they will definitely be needed if you make an abrupt stop without fair warning.


What is the best boat for a beginner?

There is no perfect answer for this as it depends on a variety of factors (What type of water will it be on? What will it be used for? How much experience do you have with boats? Etc). So we suggest you check the blog we mentioned earlier,  Best Boat for a First-Time Buyer. Then, contact our expert staff at Woodard Marine, and let them help you figure out what boat is best for YOU. 

What is the easiest boat to drive?

Let’s get this out of the way -- driving a boat should never be easy. You need to not only be fully aware of what’s going on inside of the boat but also what’s happening all around you outside of the boat.  With that, driving a boat is never easy, you just get better at it.

Is it difficult to drive a boat?

As mentioned before, there are different factors at play when it comes to driving a boat than driving a car. Meaning, it’s a matter of comfort. And like anything in life, the more you do, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Is it hard to drive a boat in the ocean?

Again, it depends on a variety of factors. If there are a lot of people boating on a small lake, it can be significantly more difficult than floating on a calm day in the middle of the Pacific. However, if you’re in the middle of the ocean and the weather drastically changes - you’ll be dreaming of a busy day on the local pond. 

Michael Jordan is hands-down the best basketball player of all-time…

Except to those who say LeBron James.  

The Jordan fan will proclaim: 

Meanwhile, the LeBron advocate will bark:

Who’s right? Both. And they’re both wrong too. Why? Because finding the best for someone depends on one thing -- the person whom it’s for.  And never is this better exemplified than a boat and its owner. 

So, what we’re going to do today is go through four styles of boats:

  1. Fishing
  2. Pontoon
  3. Bowrider 
  4. Wakeboard

We will go through each and discuss who they may be best for. Then, at the end, we will tell you which of these is the best of the best for a first-time buyer.  

With that -- let’s go fishing!


You’re addicted. There’s something about it that you just can’t describe.  Kinda like being in love, right?  When you’re on the water, you cast your line, and while you sit back and wait for something to bite, you find yourself in a tranquil state of bliss. It’s hard to not be addicted to that. One problem -- you kinda need a boat to get there. 

Now, do you necessarily need a fishing boat to go fishing from a boat? No.  However, if the primary reason why you own a boat is to go fishing -- then you need a fishing boat.  There are a variety of fishing boats to choose from. If you feel inclined to learn more about the types of fishing boats, and why wouldn’t you --  click this article by Discovery Boating.  Then, when you’re done, hit us up.  We’d love to help you determine which boat will be ideal for your fishing fun. 


Have you ever talked to a pontoon boat owner?  It’s weird. They all say the same thing when asked what they thought of their pontoon boat…

“The best decision I’ve ever made.” 

Why is that? It’s because they get to not only cruise the lake in comfort, they not only cut through waves like a hot knife through butter, but they get to do it with as many family and friends as they can fit.  

Now, there are a variety of factors, like any decision in life, that you must take into consideration before deciding on what type of pontoon boat you should invest in.  We like this piece (and the name of the site) by Pontoon Opedia.  We suggest you read through it, and when you think you’re ready -- give us a shout. Our sales team will take whatever time they need to assure you that you are investing in not only the best boat for your family -- but the best boat for your family’s family too.  


Have you ever experienced riding in a tube being pulled by a boat? It’s fantastic! It’s as if the wind has strings attached to it. Seriously, as the wind sprays your face with just the right amount of mist -- the corners of your mouth are pulled back into a massive smile like you’re one of Jeff Dunham’s puppets.

Owning a bowrider provides this wonderful gift to not only the owner but all those lucky enough to ride with them. But full-disclosure, owning a bowrider will get a little annoying. Because your phone will not stop ringing from friends and family who just so happen to be wondering whether or not you're taking your boat out today.  

If you’re wondering if a bowrider is the right boat for you, check this article by Discovery Boating.  Then, when you’re done, and if you’ve come to the conclusion that a bowrider is the best boat for you - give us a shout and we will be honored to help you find one! 

And last but certainly not least --


Yeah, a wakeboard boat is the epitome of sexy: 

Trust us, we get that. And because we get that, we are simply going to say this -- if you’re a first-time boat buyer, it’s more than likely a wakeboard boat may be too much boat for you.  But it’s totally dependent upon your experience.  That’s why we suggest you contact us today.  Woodard Marine IS your wakeboard boat specialist. This means we know what questions you may have. You see, at Woodard Marine we have one mission and one mission only - to find the best boat for you! 


So, which one is it? Is the fishing boat the perfect one for a first-time buyer? Maybe the pontoon? Perhaps your lifestyle is perfect for a bowrider.  Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve been on a boat enough to handle your own wakeboard boat.  

The answer is -- it depends on you.  And there is only one way for you to find out what boat is best for you -- that’s by contacting your friends at Woodard Marine. 

We’d hate nothing more than you buying the wrong boat for you, and having that sour your boat-owning experience.  So, contact us today, and let’s get you the boat you’ve been dreaming of! 

Oh, and by the way -- Michael Jordan is supremely greater than LeBron James!

Boating Boom: Industry Trends We Saw in 2020

Long story short: the US boating industry had an amazing year. 

We can’t say we were sad to see the sun set on 2020 though, and we’re already looking forward to next summer. Will life be getting back to normal by then? Only time will tell. At the very least we’ll be able to set out on the water to escape it all! 

In the meantime, however, let’s take a look back at the trends that propelled the boating industry forward in 2020. 

Recreational Boating Saw an Unexpected Surge 

Back in March, no one really knew how the pandemic would affect the boating industry. Only one thing was certain: manufacturing shutdowns would create supply chain delays and leave dealers with less inventory to sell. 

By late spring, it was clear that consumers were taking to the water in unanticipated numbers. Family-friendly attractions were closed, vacations were canceled, and everyone was actively discouraged, if not forbidden, from travelling far from home. Everyone seemed to realize simultaneously that the most common sense (and fun) way to get out of the house while staying socially distanced from other groups was to be out on the water in your own boat.

Dealers raced to keep up with this sudden rise in demand and prospective boaters had to search harder to find available stock. Inventory shortages combined with increased popularity of boating created a perfect storm — and the best year in sales the recreational boating industry has seen in a long time.

New Power Boat Sales Blew 2019 Out of the Water

New power boat sales increased across the board, but runabouts and pontoons showed some of the most significant increases in unit sales, according to Info-Link’s data, Year-over-year (YOY) changes were impressive, with 2020 vs. 2019 gains as high as 42.6% for runabouts and 44,9% for pontoons. 

While yachts and cruisers made up a smaller portion of power boat sales, they also saw a large YOY increase, especially in the late summer and early fall, Sales normally decline steadily after July, but in 2020 there were more yacht/cruiser sales in August than the month before, and August sales increased 57.4% from 2019. 

Other power boats, including freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and towboats, saw similar YOY increases as high as 30-45%. 

With that being said, if you’re interested or looking for more information about potentially owning a new boat -- let’s just say, we know a guy. But seriously, our staff at Woodard Marine can and will answer any and all questions you may have. Just click here to speak to one directly.  

Boat Sales Reached Pre-Recession Numbers for the First Time

The 2008 Recession hit the boating industry hard, and sales nationwide still hadn’t fully recovered by 2019. According to Fortune, about 28,000 boats were sold nationwide in May 2020, finally overtaking the highest monthly numbers last seen in November 2007. Prior to the Recession, more than 300,00 boats were sold a year; this number dropped to around 180,000 after the Recession.

Figures climbed over the last several years until new units sold reached 243,309 in 2019. In 2020, that number rose to 258,866 — even with shutdowns in the spring and inventory shortages. (Data: Trade Only Today) Of course, these statistics are only for new boat sales; the numbers would be much higher if they took into account all of the used boats bought over the past year.

Speaking of used boats -- if you’re new to boating, there is no better  (and economical)  way to get acclimated to this exciting new life than with a used boat from Woodard Marine. We scan over each and everyone with a fine-tooth comb while wearing white gloves. Okay, maybe that’s a little absurd. But what’s not absurd is how our staff makes sure that when a boat leaves our marina -- whether new or used -- we’re proud to put our Woodard family name on it, because we know it’s solid.  

To check our used inventory, just click here. 

The Selling Season Stretched into the Fall

While new power boat sales usually drop off significantly in October, over 10,000 more units were sold in October 2020 than October 2019, according to Info-Link, Since at least 2015 October power boat sales have seen slight but steady growth each year, but this fall saw a significant jump. 

The extended buying season is likely the result of inventory shortages, which prevented some customers from their boats leading up to or during the summer months. Instead, they took the seasonal decline in demand as the opportunity to purchase their boats ahead of time for the 2021 season. 

And this is neither a joke nor a sales tactic -- our inventory is selling FAST.   If you’re looking to make sure this summer will be spent having fun and not being stuck inside -- contact us today! 

First-Time Buyers Took to the Waters

Among those fleeing the cities for the clean air and serene waters of lakes were people who had never bought a boat before. In fact, according to Trade Only Today, 31% of new boats sold from January to September 2020 went to first-time buyers, a 26% increase from 2019. Even more amazingly, Trade Only Today points out that about 90% of 2020’s 26% increase in sales can be attributed to new boaters. If many of these first-time buyers had long-harbored dreams of owning a boat, it seems 2020 gave them the perfect excuse to finally take the plunge. 

Did we mention that our inventory is selling fast? 

More People Became Comfortable Buying Boats Online 

Whether they were buying new or pre-owned boats, more buyers were willing to order their boats online instead of going to showrooms or boat shows as they traditionally would. Even with the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping, consumers had previously been less comfortable making large purchases, like boats or cars, without seeing them in person first. 

Boating Became the Perfect Socially-Distanced Escape

We’ve been constrained by so much — stress, stay-at-home orders, travel bans — that it’s no wonder taking to the open water has sounded so appealing to so many people. New and experienced boaters alike chose spending time on the water as a safe, socially-distanced way to enjoy the summer months. Whether they towed their boats to new places or went out regularly on their local lake, boating became the perfect pastime in a summer of staycations. Consumers took the money they would have spent on vacations and put it towards investments in watercraft they can enjoy for years to come. 

Here at Woodard Marine, we’re grateful for the boaters who have come to us in search of their new adventure. We’re glad we’ve been able to provide our customers with the means to relax, unwind, get away from it all, and spend some quality time with their loved ones. 

How did you spend last summer? Trapped at home or out on the water? 

If you have a boat from Woodard Marina and used it this past year as your perfect getaway, we’d love to see your photos! Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook at @woodardmarineVT or Instagram at @woodardmarine. 

Don’t have a boat yet or need an upgrade? Don’t forget to browse our inventory of new boats while daydreaming about the warm summer months. 

Save up to $1,000 and get a free cover on your new Lund. Call Woodard Marine today!

Shhh…It’s coming...

No, not St. Patrick’s Day. (Yes it is.)

Not the filling out of your brackets. (Yeah, that is too…)

Not even the ground finally deciding to thaw. (Yeah, who the hell knows with that one.)

No, no. What we’re talking about, what we are legitimately pumped about, is the 21st Vermont Boat and Marine Show this March 6th through the 8th at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, Vermont.

And you know who’s gonna be there with a W at the beginning of their name and calls Lake Bomoseen, Vermont their home? (World’s Most Interesting Man?)

Woodard Marine.

For as long as we can remember, the Woodard family has attended the largest boat and marine show in Vermont.  Not just because we love to frequent Church Street in downtown Burlington (that is pretty awesome), it’s because we love getting an up-close and personal look at the latest in marine technology, design, and innovation.

Plus, we love seeing all of our old friends and the opportunity to make new ones.

Oh, and did we mention it’s when we offer some epic deals?

Now, for those of you naysayers, the ones who wonder why on Earth would you buy a boat in March—allow us to turn that nay to a yay.

First, it’s the best time. Plain and simple. It allows you to select the exact features, options, and colors you want. If you wait, your options will become much more limited, and speaking of limited so is the Vermont boating season.

By buying now, it provides enough time for your order to land in the spring,  assuring you the opportunity to enjoy the entire boating season. 

Still not convinced? Good. Because this gives us the chance to give you some Woodard Marine reasons why, such as:

  1. Snap a photo while in the #WoodardInstaBoat (More on that in a moment)
  2. Post it on Instagram and tag @WoodardMarine (Feel free to follow us)
  3. Watch us LIVE on Instagram Sunday at Noon to see if you won! (How simple is that?) 

Oh, and what do you win? Good question. A boat float, literally.  The Bay Breeze Boat is a mega-sized novelty island. You have to see this thing up close to truly appreciate it! 

InstaBoat Boat Float

And to commemorate our 60th (Diamond) Anniversary, if you buy a boat, you’ll receive one Diamond Balloon that contains a wide variety of fantastic discounts!  

So, while St. Patrick’s Day is coming—It’s only one day.

While your bracket may offer you the chance to win your inter-office pool—It’ll be busted on the first day.

And even after the ground thaws and you get to see your old lost friend, grass—You know there is an inevitable seventeen-inch snowstorm just dying to ruin your April.

But coming to the 21st Annual Vermont Boat and Marine Show, while it doesn’t provide alcohol, while it can’t offer $73 and office bragging rights, and while it won’t get you excited about using that grass-seed spreader your son got you for Christmas…

It does supply the chance for your family, your friends, and anyone you deem worthy--to enjoy the most fun purchase you will EVER make for years to come.

See you there!

For more details about all offers as it pertains to Woodard Marine, contact us today.

For more information about the Vermont State Boat and Marine Show, click here.

- Team Woodard.