Boating gear: What kit do I need to get out on the water?

The amount of boating gear, kit and gadgets you can buy is almost endless and how much you need depends on how big the boat is.

Here is my list of the boating gear basics that every boat should have:

  • Lifejackets for everybody on board.
  • A killcord (on smaller or open boats), which clips onto the skipper’s clothing or can be tied around a leg/wrist and cuts the engine if you’re thrown from the helm.
  • A radar reflector which makes your boat more visible to the radar of other vessels.
  • A VHF marine radio for boat-to-boat communications or contacting the Coastguard if you require assistance. Even if the boat has a fixed VHF, a handheld marine radio one is a useful addition as it can be used on the tender or if you need to take to a liferaft.
  • A compass because if all else fails you can at least follow an accurate heading.
  • A navigation aid. Most boats will be fitted with a chartplotter of some description to help you navigate but these days you can download excellent chart software onto either a smartphone or tablet.
  • An anchor. New boats will likely include one in the specification but if you’re buying a used boat ensure there is a good one included in the price; it’s your only way of staying put if you lose engine power out at sea!
  • Basic safety equipment such as flares for attracting attention, a first aid kit and a grab bag filled with essentials that can be stowed in a locker and ready to go in case you need to get off the boat in a hurry.

It’s also wise to have a good knife, a fire extinguisher, a torch, a boat hook, a bucket and some basic tools on board.

First published in the June 2021 issue of Motor Boat & Yachting. Our How to start boating series is brought to you in association with Pantaenius.


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