|Written by Susan|
Before you take your boat to the water you need to prepare you boat. There are a few items that are necessary for you to have a safe and fun boating experience. Even the most experienced boater can run into trouble on the water and with these items you will be more prepared to get through them without harm to your boat, your passengers or yourself.
Make sure you have something to assist you in navigation. You can easily become lost even in the smallest of rivers or streams. Think about how easily things from the center of a body of water can start to look the same. Unless you can see every side of the body of water you are boating in (and most generally these are only large enough for a small fishing boat) you should have some type of navigation device. A compass will serve the needs of a navigation device as long as you know how to use it. If not you should consider getting a GPS device.
If you are stranded for any reason you need to have a way to let people know where you are. Every time you take your boat out you should have at least two means of communication. If you are going to be in a very large body of water or gone for a long period of time you should have three or more communication devices. Flares, an emergency locator beacon, and a hand-held radio work great as communication devices.
Cell phones work well also if you are within the coverage area. You should also take into consideration how effective the device will be if it is wet. If your boat is completely submerged or capsizes will the communication devices you are depending on work? A whistle is a great stand by device and it works even if itâ€™s wet. I strongly suggest having one on the boat with a brightly colored floatation device attached to it so you can easily find it on the water.
You should always have a manual bilge pump on your boat. It is nice to have an electric bilge pump but if you become stranded and your battery goes dead you will need a manual bilge pump and its better to be safe than sorry.
You should always have a anchor on your boat. The weight should be about one pound for ever foot of boat length. You will need to make sure it is tightly secured to the boat with a length of rope at least as long as your boat. It is best to use a rope that is not made to float or they will be working against each other.
It is always best to carry a first aid kit but especially on a boat. If you are stranded in the middle of the water it could take several minute to get to short, dock your boat, and make it to your first aide kid tucked safely in your vehicle. The best bet is to make sure you have enough supplies stored on your boat to care for most minor injuries or sicknesses that can occur while on a boat. These should include something for sunburns!
You will need some way to get back to shore if your motor stops working for some reason. A pair of oars or paddles work great and are easy to store. Again up upgrade to that would be a spare outboard motor, trolling motor but not necessary if you have your oars handy.
Any boat that has an engine or any heat source for cooking should have a fire extinguisher. You should check at the beginning of each season to make sure it is working and up to date. Also take the time to learn how to use it before an emergency!
You should have one (correctly fitting) life vest per person on the boat at all times.
You should have a boat hook. This is basically a stick or pole that can be used to pull a person in that is in the water or to push off the shore. This works a lot like a throwing line, which is good to have as well. A throwing line is a piece of rope about has a floatation device attached to the end of it.
Itâ€™s a good idea to have some extra rope onboard. This can be used to tie your boat to something if you are close to short or to another boat if you need to be rescued.
A torch with extra batteries and a spare bulb is beneficial if you are stuck out at night this will allow other boaters to see you when you are in the water.