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Axis Wake Pro Athlete Guenther Oka knows a thing or two about prepping for a long boat journey. After completing a trip from Miami to the Florida Keys, the South Florida run (Titusville to Miami), and the Gulf Run (Fort Myers to Tampa) in Florida, Guenther is a salty old dog. To help you prepare for an overnight trip on your Axis, Guenther is sharing his tried-and-true tips to help you make the most of your journey.
Before the trip, Guenther and his boating crew do a LOT of prep work. Obviously, getting your boat and trailer serviced is the first thing, especially if you’re going somewhere more isolated. Getting fluids topped off, oil changed if it needs it—all the regular maintenance your dealer can help you with.
Always have more than enough USCG-approved PFDs for every passenger along with dock lines, anchor lines, and fenders of every sort. If you’re planning on taking more than one boat and tying up, you may find yourself in various different docking situations. So, the more fenders you have with you, the better. You never know in what condition the next dock will be, or what height it is going to be. It is difficult to plan out precisely where you will moor and you might need to anchor in a bay for the night.
Pack super light, but don’t hold back on the bug spray and sunscreen. Bring a waterproof bag for your clothes along with lots of towels. Don’t forget your rain jacket! Did we mention that you should pack light? The lighter you pack, the more room you have for the fun stuff like fishing poles, wakeboards, wake surfers, wakeskates, and foils.
Be sure to take a big cooler and ratchet strap it to the platform. This way, you can fill it up with sandwich supplies, fruits, veggies, and plenty of water. As you stop at each marina, be sure to top it off with ice. Don’t forget to bring an extra prop and a toolkit in case any minor issues arise.
When you’re ready to load up, just about everything should be stored under your seats so you’re not tripping over it. Everything you want to stay relatively dry should be placed under the observer seat. Vests, ropes, anchors, bumpers—most of these supplies can go under the rear lounge seats. Keep everything you’re going to need for a specific task in its own compartment so it’s easy to locate, use, and restore. For example, place all your docking supplies in one compartment, and your life jackets and lines in another.
If you’re running at night, it’s a very bad idea to run with your docking lights on. They’re too bright for other boats. That said, you need to have your navigation lights and anchor light on.
The navigation lights are red and green and the anchor light is white. For the sake of the driver, you can turn off the ambient lights. There are smartphone apps available for download that make it easy for navigating by charts. However, it only shows your position when you’re close enough to cell service and is only an estimated location, so it’s always a good idea to bring printed maps and charts as a backup. Always keep your eyes open and proceed with caution if you’re in unfamiliar waters. If you are traveling somewhere remote, be sure to have at least one handheld VHF radio and a PLB, or personal locator beacon with you.
Always be checking the weather and have a backup plan. It’s so easy for storms to kick up, especially in a Florida summer. Keep your eyes on the sky, never go out when it’s going to get gnarly and seek shelter if you see it on the radar.
Get creative on where you can stay. Check out local marinas with hotels or short-term rentals with docs. If you’re going to anchor up and stay in the boat, find a good mooring (indicated on some navigational apps), set your anchor, keep your anchor light on all night, and set your battery isolator switch to one battery so you still have a starting battery in the morning.
If you’re boating in saltwater or brackish water or are stopping at a marina that has a fresh-water hose available, remember to hose off your entire boat each night. Immediately after pulling the boat, throw it into freshwater or use a Fake-A-Lake to flush the engine and cooling system. It’s a good idea to fill and drain the ballast as well to make sure any saltwater is removed from the ballast pumps, too.