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Crucial Items to Have Onboard At All Times

You just purchased your first boat or yacht, now what? After you figured out where to dock it, insurance and maybe some lessons; what you should always keep in mind is that a good captain will focus most of his/her time on the preventive part of things.


Hence, before even your first ride on your new vessel you have to understand it is not a toy and a good boating day can turn into a catastrophe in a blink of an eye. Some items that might help reduce that risk include (but not limited to):

  • Life jackets: also known as personal flotation devices (PFDs), here are different types of life jackets available, including Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type V, each with different buoyancy levels and recommended use. It is important to choose a life jacket that is appropriate for the intended activity, fits properly, and is comfortable to wear. All boats must carry an appropriate number of life jackets for each person on board, and they should be readily accessible in case of an emergency. It is also important to inspect and maintain life jackets regularly to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly.

  • Fire extinguishers: they can help to quickly put out small fires and prevent them from becoming larger and more dangerous. It is recommended that boats carry at least one fire extinguisher on board, and larger vessels may require multiple extinguishers of different types and sizes depending on their size and intended use. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) sets standards for the type, size, and number of extinguishers required for boats of different sizes and classes. It is important to regularly inspect and maintain fire extinguishers to ensure they are in good working condition and easily accessible in case of an emergency. It is also important to know how to properly use a fire extinguisher and to have a fire safety plan in place in case of a fire on board.

  • Marine flares: they come in various types, including hand-held, parachute, and rocket flares, and they are often required by law to be carried on board vessels as part of their safety equipment.

  • Air horn: used on boats to signal other boats or alert nearby vessels of their presence. They can be particularly useful in situations with low visibility or when visibility is limited due to fog, darkness, or other conditions. Air horns come in various types, including manual and electric models, and they are often required by law to be carried on board vessels as part of their safety equipment. It is important to regularly check and maintain air horns to ensure they are in good working condition and are capable of producing a loud and audible signal when needed.

  • Flash light: They can be especially useful during night-time navigation, when inspecting the boat's interior or engine room, or when searching for items in low-light conditions. It is recommended to keep several flashlights on board, including waterproof or water-resistant models, in case of emergencies or power outages.

  • Anchor: There are different types of anchors available, including fluke or plow anchors, grapnel anchors, and mushroom anchors, and the choice of anchor will depend on the type and size of boat, as well as the type of bottom where the anchor will be set. It is important to choose the right size and type of anchor for the boat, to properly set the anchor to ensure it will hold, and to regularly inspect and maintain the anchor and its associated gear to ensure they are in good working condition.

  • VHF Radio: is a marine communication device that allows boaters to communicate with each other, as well as with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and other emergency responders, in case of an emergency or for routine communications. VHF stands for Very High Frequency, and VHF radios operate on a specific range of frequencies designated for marine use. They are required on most boats that venture beyond the sight of shore, and they can be used to receive weather information, updates on navigational hazards, and to make distress calls in case of an emergency. VHF radios come in various types and with different features, such as Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capabilities, which can automatically send an emergency signal with the vessel's GPS coordinates to rescue authorities. It is important to be familiar with VHF radio procedures and etiquette, as well as to regularly check and maintain the VHF radio to ensure it is in good working condition.

  • Bailer: A boat bailer is a device used to remove water from the inside of a boat. It is typically a small bucket or scoop with a handle that is used to scoop water out of the bilge, which is the lowest part of the boat where water collects. Boat bailers are often required by law to be carried on board small boats, such as canoes, kayaks, and rowboats, and they can also be useful on larger boats as a backup method for removing water in case of a malfunction of the bilge pump or other water removal system. It is important to regularly inspect and maintain the bailer to ensure it is in good working condition and to store it in a readily accessible location on board the boat.

  • First Aid Kit: is an essential safety item that should be carried on board boats of all sizes. It contains supplies and equipment that can be used to treat minor injuries and medical emergencies that may occur on board a boat. Some common items that may be included in a boat first aid kit include bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes or spray, pain relievers, scissors, tweezers, and a first aid manual. The size and contents of a boat first aid kit may vary depending on the size of the boat and the number of passengers, and it is important to regularly check and maintain the kit to ensure it is well-stocked and in good working condition. Additionally, it is recommended to have at least one member of the crew who is trained in first aid and CPR in case of a medical emergency.

  • Extra Fuel: Carrying extra fuel on a boat is a good safety practice, especially for boats that will be traveling long distances or to areas where fuel is not readily available. It is important to carefully consider the amount of fuel that will be needed for the trip and to calculate the maximum distance that the boat can travel on a tank of fuel. The extra fuel should be stored in appropriate containers that are designed for marine use, and should be properly secured on board the boat to prevent spills or leaks. It is important to follow proper fuel handling and storage procedures to prevent fire or explosion hazards, and to regularly check and maintain the fuel system to ensure it is in good working condition. Additionally, it is recommended to carry an appropriate fire extinguisher on board in case of a fuel-related fire.

Always keep in mind where all of these are located in your boat/yacht and inform your passengers as well. Step up your captain game and avoid an accident.

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