10 Boating Must-Haves for Beginners

By Debbie Hanson

Nov 02, 2018

List of boating must haves that beginning boaters, all boaters need to keep on board. Boating necessities to keep your boat trips relaxing, enjoyable, safe

Whether you're a new boat owner, or are about to buy your first boat, there are certain boating must-haves that you'll need to bring aboard prior to your maiden voyage. From safety gear to spare parts, be sure to check these items off your list of boating necessities.

  1. Life Jackets or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). One of the most important boating must-haves is a set of PFDs. According to U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have an approved life jacket for every person on board. You should also keep in mind that boats 16 feet and over must carry at least one Type IV throwable device as well.
  2. Boat Registration. Keep your boat registration paperwork in a safe, dry place on board. Your Certificate of Registration must be available for inspection by an enforcement officer whenever your boat is operated.
  3. First-Aid Kit. Any list of safety boating basics isn't complete without a first-aid kit. Purchase a first-aid kit that has inner waterproof bags to keep contents dry and, if possible, one that has reflective material on the outside of the bag or case. The reflective material will make your first-aid kit easy to find in the dark.
  4. EPIRB or Personal Locator Beacon. An EPIRB is a battery-powered emergency transmitting device that is carried on your boat. As the name implies, it is used only in the event of an emergency and as a last resort if your marine radio is inoperable or out of range. In addition to EPIRBs, there are also smaller Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) that can be clipped to each life jacket or kept aboard for use on inland and inshore waterways.
  5. Rope. Carry extra rope in case your boat needs a tow, if you need to tow another boat to safety, need an extra dock line, or to use as a throw line.
  6. Basic Toolkit. Have a toolkit that contains screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, ratchets, sockets, pliers, hose clamps, electrical tape, screws, nuts, bolts, a wire cutter, and marine caulk.
  7. Waterproof Flashlight. For nighttime use, be sure to have a marine-grade waterproof flashlight (an extra set of extra flashlight batteries is also a good idea) stowed on your boat.
  8. Spare Drain Plugs. Always carry spare drain plugs when boating in case the rubber seal breaks down or you misplace one.
  9. Hand-held Compass. In the event your electronics fail and you need to take bearings to determine your location, a hand-held compass is another one of the boating necessities you should have on board.
  10. Extra Spark Plugs. Particularly if you have a small outboard engine, be sure to carry a few extra marine-grade spark plugs in case corrosion sets in.

By being prepared with these ten boating must-haves, you'll have a safer and more enjoyable experience on the water.

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.