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What do you need on a boat, when fishing in the USA

by Debbie Hanson 25 Aug 22:02 UTC
10 things you need on a boat © Take Me Fishing

Whether you're a new or experienced boater, there are certain things you should always have on board for safety reasons.

Check out this list of 10 things you need on a boat that includes some standard boating must-haves for any boat type.

List of important boat essentials

  • License and registration
  • Life jackets
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Visual distress signals and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)
  • Flashlight
  • Anchor and rode
  • First aid kit
  • Rain gear
  • Tool kit
  • Cell phone and marine radio

1. License and registration

You might be wondering, "What do I need for my first boat in terms of documentation?" Check your state's requirements before learning how to boat, but in most cases this includes your boat registration, your boater education card, and personal identification. The cost of registration varies by state depending on the length and type of vessel, but the average cost is usually in the range of $25 to $250.

2. Life jackets

Life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) top the list of boating must-haves. Always bring enough life jackets for the number of guests aboard your boat, make sure you have the right type of PFD for the waters you'll be boating in (inshore, offshore, inland), and make sure the life jackets are USCG-approved. Life jackets can run from $10 to around $100, depending on type.

3. Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers need to be on your boating checklist. Boats less than 26' are required to have at least one B-1 fire extinguisher on board, and boats 26'-40' need to have at least two B-1 fire extinguishers on board. They run from about $25 to $130 each.

4. Visual distress signals and EPIRB

While these are two separate items to include on your boating equipment list, they both summon help in the event of an emergency while on the water. Visual distress signals or flares can run from $35 to $100, an EPIRB will run from about $400 to $500.

5. Flashlight

A flashlight and extra batteries are cheap boat supplies that help you see around your boat in the dark. They cost anywhere from about $15 to $60, depending on size and type.

6. Anchor and rode

An anchor and rode are included in the ten things you need on a boat because if you break down and need to call for a tow, an anchor will maintain your position. It will also help ensure that you don't drift into a busy channel or a rocky shoreline when fishing or stopping to watch the sunset. Anchors generally run anywhere from $50 on up, depending on the size and type.

7. First aid kit

Be prepared for onboard emergencies with a first aid kit that's stocked for the typical number of passengers you have aboard and the remote nature of the area where you'll be boating. For day trips close to home and within a short distance to emergency services, a basic first aid kit will cover most needs. Basic first aid kits are affordable or cheap boat supplies that are important to have on hand, most start at about $25.

8. Rain gear

Rain or foul weather gear consists of jackets, pants, and boots with windproof and waterproof qualities. The right gear will keep your crew safe and dry during inclement weather situations. Costs vary depending on the type of foul weather gear, but prices typically start around $50 to $60 for an affordable rain jacket.

9. Tool kit

Boats of all sizes, but particularly offshore boats or boats for long distancing cruising, should always be well-stocked with an onboard tool kit for minor repairs. Most stowaway tool kits cost anywhere from $40 to about $80. You can get more information about each of the items that should be in a basic boating tool kit by researching boating tips and tricks.

10. Cell phone and marine radio

These communication devices are important in case of an emergency. Bring your cell phone along on the boat, but make sure you keep it stowed in a waterproof case so it doesn't get wet. It's also a good idea to have a handheld VHF marine radio on board, which run from about $60 to $150 (depending on the manufacturer and type).

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