03 Feb Must-Have Boat Accessories
You’ve just become the owner of a new boat. Congratulations!
The days you spend enjoying the freedom of the open water are bound to be relaxing, rewarding, and exciting. But before you cast off, it’s important to make sure your vessel is well equipped for a variety of situations.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the must-have boat accessories that every new boat owner needs to ensure you stay safe and have fun for as long as possible.
Piloting a boat requires more than just the vessel itself. In order to moor at a dock and set sail, you’ll need a few things to avoid damaging your boat.
Even if your boat comes with dock lines, it’s always a good idea to have some extra ones lying around. These can be as simple as a line of rope all the way up to elastic lines that stretch.
A boat hook is another important piece of equipment that can help you grab onto lines or buoys or fish items out of the water.
You may also want to invest in some fenders so you don’t cause damage to your hull when docking or pulling up alongside another vessel. Some even double as seat cushions so you and your passengers can lounge in comfort.
Boat Safety Equipment
From unexpected weather conditions to mechanical issues, there are a wide variety of potential hazards that can arise while you’re on the water. Having the right safety equipment on board will help you protect yourself and your passengers in case of an emergency.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the required safety equipment in your area. In Florida, this is dependent on the size of your vessel but standards will vary from region to region. It is imperative that you research the requirements specific to your boat and where you will be boating to ensure that you comply with all laws.
However, there are certain pieces of boat safety equipment that every boater should have on board.
Flotation devices are an essential piece of equipment for any boater. You should have a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) for every person on your boat as well as a throwable version.
If you plan on hosting large parties on your boat, make sure you have enough for multiple ages and weights.
If you’re new to boating, it might feel like overkill to worry about fire when you’re surrounded by water. But boats can catch fire as easily as any other vehicle.
Like flotation devices, fire extinguishers come in a variety of different types, so make sure you do your research to ensure you’re complying with the law.
No one likes to think about it, but mechanical issues can happen anywhere—including the open water off the coast.
In the event your boat breaks down, you need visual and sound distress signals so you can be found easily. Visual signals can range from flags to flashing lights and smoke signals, but you should be prepared for both night and day scenarios.
Sound signals can be anything from a foghorn to a bell or whistle.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is another essential piece of safety equipment to have on board, whether you plan on fishing or just lounging in the water.
A well-stocked first aid kit should include:
- A waterproof case
- Antiseptic wipes
- Emergency thermal blanket
- Seasickness medication
A VHF (Very High Frequency) radio is a crucial piece of equipment for communicating to other boats or even to the shore in an emergency.
If your vessel does not come with one, handheld models are a great option.
In addition to cell phones and VHF radios, there are a large number of things that must stay dry.
It’s a good idea to have one pouch available for keys, electronics, and other items (there are even waterproof phone cases that float if thrown overboard) as well as a place to store your boat registration and other important documents.
Boat GPS & Navigation
A lack of landmarks (and no roadways) can make marine navigation impossible—unless you have the right equipment.
Boat GPS units and chartplotters are an easy way to avoid running aground so you can explore more areas. Boat maps allow you to see your location in real time as well as the water depth and other features. Some even come equipped with fish finders to make reeling in the perfect catch easy.
The only caveat is that your GPS is only as good as the map you’re using.
ISLA has put more than a decade into developing the most accurate, easy-to-use mapping chips available for the entire coast of Florida and Louisiana. If you’re used to Navionics or the CMAP software that comes pre-loaded onto your GPS unit, you’ll be amazed at the detail and accuracy you get with Florida Marine Tracks and Louisiana Marine Tracks.
We recommend a Navico unit—such as Simrad, Lowrance, or B&G—as Garmin GPS doesn’t allow use of third-party mapping chips.
Fishing Boat Accessories
If you’re already an avid fisher, you’re probably aware of the basic equipment you’ll need. However, fishing from shore can be quite different from fishing on a boat.
First of all, the species of fish you are likely to catch will vary drastically off-shore. If you are trying your hand at saltwater fishing for the first time, you may also have to upgrade your equipment in order to reel in those larger catches.
Some basic equipment you should have includes:
- Rod and reel
- Fishing line
- Waterproof tackle box
- Variety of lures and hooks
If you want to upgrade your fishing experience (and have enough room), invest in a fish cleaning station and portable grill to enjoy your catch right away.
Finally, a fishfinder is a great piece of gear that can help you locate fish and determine the best spots to drop your line. These devices use sonar technology to “see” underwater and display a detailed map of the bottom of the body of water on a screen. This can help you find schools of fish, identify underwater structures, and even determine the depth of the water.
Fun Boat Accessories
Whether you plan on fishing all day or simply spending time with friends and family, there’s no better place to kick back and relax than your very own boat. However, you’ll be far from the comforts of home, so you’ll have to bring them with you.
While none of these items are essential for your time on the water, they can help make that time more enjoyable.
Unless you have a refrigerator on board, you’ll want to invest in a good cooler to keep food and drinks cold.
Coolers can come equipped with a variety of additional features, such as integrated seats, cupholders, and phone chargers, but good insulation should be your primary concern.
You’d be surprised at how much trash piles up when you’re on a boat. Rather than risking all of those cans and wrappers ending up in the water, keep them in a boat trash can so you can dispose of them responsibly.
One of the biggest downsides to spending a day on the water is dealing with the sun’s harsh rays.
A sunshade or canopy can provide some much-needed protection from the sun, but make sure you bring additional sun protection as well. Sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves are essential for preventing sunburns.
Deck Chairs & Towels
Whatever your plans for the day, no one wants to spend the entire time standing. Deck chairs provide a comfortable place to relax and soak up the sun. Just make sure they’re sturdy and able to withstand a humid environment.
Another helpful item to have on board is a selection of towels for drying off after a dip in the water. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, some type of absorbent towel (such as a chamois) can help prevent slipping.
Not everyone likes to fish, and that’s okay! A waterproof Bluetooth speaker is an easy way to get the party started and keep it going all day. And with a solar-powered charging station, you can keep all your devices ready to go at all times.
A deck of waterproof playing cards or board games (Battleship, anyone?) is another great option to pass the time.
Owning your own boat is bound to provide you with many hours of excitement and relaxation. And with these must-have boat accessories on board, you’ll be well equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
At ISLA Mapping, we want every day you spend on the water to be as enjoyable as your first. That’s why we developed the best mapping chip on the market for Florida and Louisiana waters. First in accuracy and easy to use, Florida Marine Tracks and Louisiana Marine Tracks will help you get the most out of your time on the water.