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Boating Equipment

Learn which boating equipment is essential to both safety and enjoyment on the water.

Boating equipment consists of both saftey and leisure gear. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Boating equipment consists of both saftey and leisure gear.

Boating Equipment

Purchasing the proper boating equipment is vital to ensuring a safe and successful time on the water. Boating accidents and malfunctions are always a possibility, so it's important to have the right boating equipment to keep all passengers safe. A boater should have a number of items on board in case of an emergency.

Communication Devices

When considering what boating equipment is essential for safety, boaters should remember the importance of communication devices. A number of useful technological gadgets allow a boater to contact others in case of an emergency.

  • Very high frequency (VHF) radioEvery boat should have a VHF radio onboard. These reliable two-way radios are monitored twenty-four hours a day and allow boaters to communicate with other vessels and people on shore. The word "mayday" is an internationally-recognized distress signal used when communicating via radio.
  • Single sideband (SSB) radio. These radios operate in high- or medium-frequency bands. They have a transmission range of up to 6,000 miles to provide long-range communication.
  • Cell phones may also be useful, especially if the boat isnt too far off the coast. Many cell phones will receive service many miles from shore. If a boater encounters danger onboard or is concerned about approaching bad weather, he or she can use a cell phone to call for help or information. Cell phones with Internet capabilities are great for accessing tide information, satellite imagery, wind forecasts and weather predictions. However, cell phones shouldnt be the only communication device on board as they may not receive service in some locations and most arent waterproof.
  • A laptop computer another good way to communicate. Boaters can send e-mail to inquire about weather and other non-urgent situations. When boaters are within a cellular phone network, they can use a cellular phone connection to send and receive e-mail via computer.

Apparel and Accessories

A boaters clothing and accessory choices aren't simply about making a fashion statement; they are an important part of staying safe. Owning and wearing the proper boating attire is important for any passenger's comfort and protection.

According to Boating Life, sunglasses are as important to a boater as any other piece of boating equipment. When spending long hours on the water, proper eye protection is imperative. Good sunglasses with UV filters protect eyes from retina damage. Eyes that are unprotected or only covered by cheap, ineffective sunglasses are susceptible to a number of vision disorders.

Since rain can pelt a boat at up to 100 miles per hour, it is important for boaters to find protective rain gear that is resilient. Boaters should look for rain jackets made of drier fabrics with tight zippers. Jackets should be flexible and comfortable. Boating Life tests and ranks jackets of all types in its annual Summer Guide.

Some clothing is specifically designed with the safety of boaters in mind.
SolarTex offers trendy swimwear for with built-in sun protection to block the most damaging rays. Wide-rimmed hats, such as those made by Tilley Endurables, help protect boaters from the sun and elements. Tilley hats are waterproof and have a special, hidden pocket to store and protect important items, such as money, licenses or other documents.

A life vest, or personal flotation device (PFD), is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for boaters. By law, every boat must carry one wearable PFD for each person onboard. Life vests must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in good condition and the proper size for each passenger. Life vests can be divided into two categories: inherently buoyant devices, which contain materials such as foam panels that allow passengers to float; and inflatable devices, which are inflated manually or automatically as needed. Many improvements have been made to PFDs in recent years, allowing boaters and passengers to choose from a wide array based on personal preference, style and comfort.

First Aid

Boaters should always have a first aid kid on board in case of injury. First aid kits can be purchased or assembled at home. The American Red Cross recommends that every first aid kit contain adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze and tape, a blanket, bandages, a thermometer, scissors, aspirin and a first aid instruction book.

BoatingBasicsOnline.com also recommends that boaters include bug spray, a flashlight, sunscreen, motion sickness tablets and a loud whistle in their first aid kits.

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