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Nothing is more refreshing than being out on the open seas, with the wind in your hair and the sea salt in your face. Or maybe cruising across a clear lake with fresh air all around you.
Whatever your pleasure, being prepared is crucial before stepping foot in your boat for it’s maiden voyage. When it comes to boating supplies, there are some things that are optional and there are others that are absolutely essential. Here are 7 things every boat should have:
#1 – Boat Registration
One thing you should never leave shore without is your boat registration. It’s like having a driver license for your boat. Keep it in your boat’s glove box, in a ziplock bag, with all of your other important boating documents. If you always keep it in the same place, you always know where it is.
#2 – Personal Locator Beacon
Have a working personal locator beacon on board should be a requirement when on the open water. Like a life vest, it can mean the difference between life an death. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it but you’ll be glad to know it’s there in case of emergency.
#3 – Life Vests
Life vests are another essential supply, that’s often overlooked. Some people look down on life vests, thinking that they are unnecessary when actually, a life vest can save your life. Because they keep your head above water, they can delay the onset of hypothermia. Make sure you have the right type of life vest for boating and you test its buoyancy if you’ve never used it before.
While is it required by the coast guard, it’s a good idea to not only have them, but to also wear them. Make sure you have a life vest for every person on board, as well as a couple spares. Some families even choose to go boating with a baby on board. While it’s fun that the entire family can take part, a proper fitting infant life vest is a must.
#4 – Sunscreen
Imagine yourself a few miles out. You and your buddies decide this would be a great place to do some snorkeling. You get your gear together and dive in. After about 45 minutes of exploring, you come back up with your back and neck feeling like they’re on fire.
What’s missing from this scenario? Sun protection! Forgetting to apply (and re-apply) a water-resistant sunscreen will turn a fun day out on the water into a miserable experience later on. For extra protection, wear a rash guard or swim shirt especially if you’ll be on an uncovered deck for a long time or doing some snorkeling.
#5 – First Aid Kit
When you’re out on the water with your family and friends, it’s best to be prepared for anything. You should have a waterproof first aid kit on board, at all times. Stock it with all the essentials. Make sure to include bandages, tweezers, cotton, medical tape, peroxide or antibacterial ointment and aspirin. You could also include extras like medicine for sea sickness and bottles of water.
#6 – Flares
Obviously, this depends on how far out you’ll go but having a a couple aerial flares stored onboard in a waterproof container is cheap insurance for a worst case situation. Since they can be launched a few hundred feet into the air, you’ll have a much greater chance of being seen if disaster strikes.
#7 – Paddles
Paddles work surprisingly well for moving a small size boat in case motorized power has failed for whatever reason or you simply ran out of fuel. Keep a pair of long whitewater canoe style paddles stored on board for emergencies.
These are just some of the necessary supplies that any boat owner should have aboard. Feel free to include your own essentials such as a knife or flares. It’s fundamental to be prepared once you leave shore. Think of all the things you might need and make sure to restock your boat every season. Having a fire extinguisher on board isn’t very useful if it’s expired. Once you have safety taken care of, the only thing left is fun!