22 Essentials to Bring Aboard for a Day of Boating

The day before a boating or fishing trip can be busy considering the planning that is required. Take full advantage of the time you spend on the water by being adequately prepared for a variety of situations that may come up. It's fairly easy to avoid bug bites, motion sickness, hungry kids and soggy shorts. Just print or write down this handy list of 22 items to bring along before heading out on the boat.


  1. Boat registration
    Be sure to have your valid boat registration certificate along with you. It's one of the most important boating essentials since it proves that you are following the state law regarding operation of the vessel.

  2. Waterproof camera
    There are several different types of waterproof cameras out on the market these days. If you spend a considerable amount of time boating, they are well worth the investment.

  3. Cell phone or marine radio
    Always have a cell phone or marine radio on board in case of emergency. Know how to reach the marine patrol, police, and Coast Guard.

  4. Change of clothes
    Boat wakes and unexpected weather can mean wet, uncomfortable clothes. Pack a change of clothes in large zip lock or plastic bag.

  5. Cooler
    You can keep your water, sodas, snacks and fish cold by bringing an airtight cooler along on the trip.

  6. Fire extinguisher
    All vessels are required to have a fire extinguisher on board. Educate yourself on the safety requirements for your particular state.

  7. First aid kit
    Buy a waterproof first aid kit that includes gauze pads, bandages, scissors, rubber gloves, cotton, antiseptic lotion, aspirin, and tweezers.

  8. Fishing license
    Have a copy of your fishing license with you, and be informed on the current fishing regulations in your state.

  9. Hand sanitizer or wipes
    Hand sanitizer is good to use after handling bait or fish.

  10. Hat
    Wear a hat with a wide brim or visor whenever possible to keep the sun off of your face.

  11. Insect repellant
    If you are outdoors, there will be bugs. Keep the scratching at a minimum by packing the insect repellant.

  12. Lip balm with high SPF
    Lips can get sunburned just as easily as the rest of our bodies and are often overlooked. Find a lip balm with a high SPF (SPF 20 to 30).

  13. Motion sickness pills
    Avoid unexpected queasiness and bring a pack of motion sickness pills or crystallized ginger (which also helps keep sensitive tummies calm).

  14. Non-perishable snacks
    Beef jerky, fruit roll-ups, granola bars, mixed nuts or frozen grapes all make good snack options when spending the day on a boat.

  15. Personal floatation device
    Educate yourself on the laws regarding personal floatation devices in your state. All passengers are required to wear a USCG-approved personal floatation device that provides buoyancy.

  16. Rain gear
    Rain showers and thunderstorms can come up quickly when out on the lake or ocean. Stay as dry as possible by having a rain jacket and rain pants on board.

  17. Sunglasses
    They don't have to be fashionable, but should be polarized and capable of cutting the glare from the water.

  18. Sunscreen
    The sun's rays are stronger the water, making it easier to get burned. Be sure to buy sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and a high SPF.

  19. Sweatshirt
    Early mornings and evenings on the water are often cool (even during the summer months), so bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt.

  20. Towel
    Keep a towel in a plastic bag to dry off with at the end of the day.

  21. Visual Distress Signals
    Visual distress signals allow boat operators or passengers to signal for help in the event of an emergency. Know which types of VDSs are requirements for the type of boat you will be boarding.

  22. Water 
    Bring along several bottles of water for each person so that dehydration doesn't become an issue.

What other items have you found to be essential or helpful while boating or fishing?

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.