Boating Essentials: What To Have On Your Boat

Boating Essentials: What To Have On Your Boat

No two boating adventures are the same. Scenarios can arise that can quickly turn your average day on the water into something totally different. You can't control everything during your trip, like mother nature or mechanical failure, but you can minimize the chance of having these potential risks ruin your day by being prepared and bringing the right gear.

One of the best ways to be prepared is to compile a checklist and run through it before each trip. A good checklist takes the guesswork out of preparing and will go a long way to ensure you have the best possible time on your trip. We have assembled a list of tips and good practices to keep you, your boat, and your guests safe.


Pre-Departure Checklist

Boating Checklist
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Take some time to examine the boat and make sure all electrical and operational controls are functioning properly
  • Check that your bilge pumps are working correctly
  • Make sure your engine battery is charged and your oil and fuel levels are topped up
  • Check that all safety gear is aboard and easily accessible
  • If you’re taking an extended trip, be sure to complete a float plan to let someone know where you’re going and what to do if you don’t arrive as planned

US Coast Guard Required Safety Gear

This list is the USCG minimum required list for boating safety gear. New boats generally come supplied with the gear needed to meet these requirements, but new boaters and used boat owners should double-check their inventory to make sure they have these items. While this list is a great starting point, you should also check your own state laws and requirements.

Boating Safety - Life Jackets
  • Life Jackets - All recreational vessels are required to carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board. Any boat 16 feet or longer (except for kayaks and canoes) must also have one throwable (Type IV) flotation device.
  • Visual Distress Signals - All boats used on coastal waters, including the Great Lakes, the territorial seas and the high seas must be equipped with visual distress signals (VDS) - such as flares. Boats under 16' in length are required to have one VDS while boats over 16' must have three coast guard approved distress signals.
  • Fire Extinguishers - Boats 26' or less must have a minimum of one B-1 type portable fire extinguishers on board. Boats 26' - 40' must have two B-1 type extinguishers or one B-2 type fire extinguisher. Boats that are 40' to 65' are required to have three B-1 type extinguishers or a combination of one B-1 and one B-2 type fire extinguisher.
  • VentilationBoats built after 1980 must have at least two ventilation ducts able to ventilate the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment using gasoline. Boats built before 1980, must have at least two ventilation ducts which are capable of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and/or tank, except those having permanently installed tanks which vent outside of the boat.
  • Sound Producing Devices - Navigational rules require sound signals, such as whistles or bells, to be used under certain circumstances when meeting, crossing, or overtaking. Recreational boats are also required to use sound signals during periods of reduced visibility.
  • Navigation Lights - Recreational boats are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility such as fog, rain, or haze.

For a complete guide to federal requirements for recreational boats please click this link.


Essential Boating Equipment

Anchor

Essential Boating EquipmentHaving an anchor on board seems like a no-brainer, but some people don't feel they need an anchor for the casual boat outing. Anchors should be considered essential safety gear. If and when situations arise that result in a loss of power, wind gusts, or a strong current taking control, quickly deploying an anchor can prevent you from drifting into dangerous waters. Having the correct anchor and rode on your boat is an absolute must. Click this link for more information on choosing the correct anchor type for your boat.

Dock Lines

Inevitably you will need to dock your boat at some point on your trip. Quality dock lines are a necessity to secure your boat to the dock, other boats, or any other type of docking posts.

Fenders

While some might not consider these a necessity, a few strategically placed fenders can save you from a lot of financial and frustration related headaches. Fenders provide quick and easy protection for your boat while giving you peace of mind in tricky situations.


Last But Not Least

helicopter rescue

First Aid Kit

Whether you buy a first aid kit or assemble your own, don't leave home without one. Regularly check the expiration dates and store your kit in a watertight container.

Tool Kit

 A simple pair of pliers, an adjustable wrench, and a screwdriver will go a long way to repair miscellaneous wear and tear that can happen on the water.

VHF Radio

Cell phones may not work in certain areas. A simple waterproof VHF radio is a great backup in case of an emergency. Toss one in the boat and be ready for any situation.

Manual Bailers

Hopefully you will never have to use these, but if a bilge pump fails you may want to have a plan B on board. A manual bilge pump or an extra bucket could give you enough time to get to safety and keep your boat off the bottom.

Flash Light

A bright flashlight can be a huge help if you find yourself quickly losing light. Don't get stuck on open water without any way to see where you're going.

Extra Food & Water

It sounds simple enough but we've all been in a situation when we underestimated how much food and water we need. Always pack more than you think you need. If you end up in an emergency situation, you'll be happy you did.

Published

Recent Posts

Prevent Dock Line Chafing and Know When to Replace Failing Boat Lines
Prevent Dock Line Chafing and Know When to Replace Failing Boat Lines
Line chafe is one of the biggest enemies when it comes to boat ownership. Chafed and weakened boat lines are not only dangerous for overhead rigging but can also cause dock lines to fail and send your expensive investment adrift. It's important to know how to prevent dock line chafe and to recognize when damaged dock lines are in need of replacing.
Anchoring.com's Anchoring Quiz
Anchoring.com's Anchoring Quiz
Test your anchoring knowledge with our anchoring quiz!
Boat Ramp Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts for a Swift Boat Launch
Boat Ramp Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts for a Swift Boat Launch
During peak boating season the ramps are crowded and people are anxious to get on the water. If you're an avid boater, chances are you've seen tempers flare between fellow boaters competing for a spot on the boat ramp. Spare yourself and others the unnecessary frustrations at the boat ramp by following these simple ramp etiquette do's and don'ts.
How to Repair or Patch a Hole or Tear in a Boat Cover
How to Repair or Patch a Hole or Tear in a Boat Cover
Before you run out and drop a bundle on a brand-new cover, consider repairing your existing cover with a patch. It will be less expensive than a new cover, will not take up too much time, and will be more environmentally friendly than sending a cover to the landfill. In this article we’ll discuss the materials and steps required for a basic DIY boat cover tear or hole repair.
How to Launch a Boat by Yourself
How to Launch a Boat by Yourself
Launching a boat can be one of the most difficult and stressful aspects of boating. This stress only gets worse if you're launching a boat without any other helpers. If you're not careful about your planning and execution, your day can take a turn for the worse in a matter of seconds. Luckily we've assembled the tips and tricks to start your day off right and to avoid doing any unnecessary harm to your boat or vehicle.
The 5 Best Tips for Preventing Mold and Mildew on Your Boat
The 5 Best Tips for Preventing Mold and Mildew on Your Boat
Once mold and mildew get established, they are difficult to get rid of, and most boat insurance does not cover related damage. The key to dealing with mold and mildew is to prevent them by creating conditions adverse to their development. We've collected the five best tips to prevent mold and mildew on your boat.
Boat Cover Types and Materials
Boat Cover Types and Materials
Choosing a cover can be confusing given the number of different materials and the different variations of covers. We’ll cover some of the basics that you’re going to see out there.
Retrieve a Fouled Anchor and Tips to Prevent Snags in the First Place
Retrieve a Fouled Anchor and Tips to Prevent Snags in the First Place
It happens far too often. You're ready to pull anchor and set off after a relaxing float only to find that your anchor won't budge. Don't reach for that knife just yet, there are several retrieval methods you can use to salvage your anchor as well as your trip. Here a few tips to retrieve a fouled anchor.
How to Deploy and Use a Sea Anchor or Drogue
How to Deploy and Use a Sea Anchor or Drogue
Sea Anchor, Storm Drogue, Sea Brake, Parachute Anchor, Drift Sock: these are several names used to describe devices deployed to create drag on a vessel in open water. No matter how many different monikers you find out there, they are referring to one of two types, 1) a parachute or cone shaped piece of fabric dragged from the bow (most accurately called a Sea Anchor), or 2) a fabric cone or series of cones dragged from the stern (most accurately called a Drogue). In this article we’ll look at the differences between the two, their uses, and how to deploy and retrieve them.
Boat Cleaning Guide: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Boat Cleaning Guide: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Some boaters consider cleaning and detailing to be a daunting and back-breaking task. Fortunately for them, it doesn't have to be! While keeping a clean craft is definitely an important aspect of basic boat maintenance, it's not necessary to spend hours on end to accomplish this goal. Sufficient cleaning supplies and regular upkeep go a long way to keep your boat looking and performing great without costing you a fortune.