Whether you’re gearing up to float leisurely with the current, planning a fishing trip, or speeding through the water with your friends in tow on a tube, preparation is necessary. Here’s a helpful list of items you should always have on hand to maximize both fun and safety when you go boating.
When determining what you need to go boating, the most important category on the list is safety equipment. Regulations vary per state, but life jackets, fire extinguishers, and visual distress signals are almost always mandatory by the United States Coast Guard. Always bring enough life jackets for everyone on board, and ensure you have the correct type of flotation device for the kind of water you’ll be boating in.
It’s essential to use USCG-approved life jackets as well. Additionally, USCG regulations exist around the type of fire extinguisher and distress signals needed based on the type of boat. Audible signaling devices such as horns and whistles, a medical kit that’s stored in a waterproof hardcase, oars or paddles, and extra rope for tying knots are wise additions as well.
Most states vary from one to the next, but typically you typically must carry documentation for yourself and your boat. This often includes your boat registration, boater education card, and personal ID card such as a driver’s license.
Your Cell Phone
Unplugging from the world while on a boat and enjoying nature is one of the joys of boating. While you should be able to enjoy the peace and quiet and turn off your phone, it is wise to still bring it with you. Be sure to stow it in a waterproof case to protect it. Sure, your phone can be a source for music entertainment while boating, but it is also valuable as a navigational device, weather monitor, and means of communication should you require assistance.
While you won’t be able to plan for every potential problem, you can construct a sufficient collection of tools to help you in an emergency. Stowaway toolkits are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared with the cost of not having what you need when you need it. It’s best to store your tools in a soft tool bag since a metal toolbox may scratch the inside of your boat.
When boating, it is not uncommon for fishline, rope, seaweed, or even waste materials to get tangled in the propeller. Without a knife to cut away the debris, you may be stuck rowing back to shore or calling for a tow–neither being ideal conclusions to a boating trip. Consider using a knife with a serrated blade to cut through high-tech rope or nylon. You may also want to choose a knife with a blunt tip since these are safest in hazardous conditions.
Anchor and Rode
The last item we’ll recommend is the anchor and rode. Should you break down and need to call for a tow, an anchor and rode will keep you safely in place until assistance arrives. Without the anchor, the wind or a swift current could cause you to drift into a busy channel or rocky shoreline. An anchor and ride can also keep you in place at a safe distance from danger if you want to stop to fish or enjoy the sunset.
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