1. Make sure you have the basic anchoring equipment and skills (see the article on Anchoring) and all necessary supplies (see cruising check list above). It's amazing how we always seem to forget something.
2. For your first cruise, don't be too ambitious in terms of trying to cover long distances or staying out too many days. This is especially important if you are cruising out with children. If the wind doesn't cooperate, don't be afraid to use your motor to make sure you get to your anchorage by a reasonable hour.
3. Plan to make use of anchorages which offer protection from the announced or prevailing winds (usually from the north-west). This is obviously less important if the forecast only calls for light and variable winds during the night. Ask around if you don't know what to expect.
4. If you are unsure about your anchoring skills, try to arrive at your anchorage a little early before it fills up (i.e. before 5 o'clock in the afternoon). Also note that anchorages that are crowded on weekends can be deserted on weekdays. Moreover, crowded anchorages near major boating centres may thin out a little by early evening as boats only out for the day pick up anchor and head back to their club or marina.
5. Before turning in for the night, try to identify and eliminate potential sources of noise on your boat. As your boat bobs around in the water, noises can be generated by a door that squeaks back and forth, a rudder that keeps thumping against the hull, and halyards that slaps against the mast. These noises may be barely noticeable during the day, but they can drive you crazy when trying to sleep in the middle of the night.
6. You really don't need a dinghy for short cruises on the Ottawa River. Nonetheless, they are handy for simply rowing around the anchorage, visiting other boats, and of course, to go ashore to do a little exploring. At some later date you may want to consider getting a rigid tender (a pain to have to tow around) or and inflatable (a pain to inflate and deflate). In the meantime, it may be worth buying a cheap vinyl inflatable dinghy at a hardware store. They can be used as a working dinghy in a pinch, and the rest of time serve as a convenient swimming platform.
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