15 Supplies You Need for Your First Boat

Supplies for your first boat

Buying a boat is an exciting process. You’ll get to research (and possibly tour) a wide range of different vessels that could potentially suit your needs. Eventually, you’ll end up with the boat that fits your lifestyle, your needs, and your personality best. This boat can instantly make you feel more connected with the water and give you the drive to pursue your hobbies further—whether that means sport fishing, or just relaxing on the water.

However, before you take your vessel on its inaugural journey, there are some important supplies you’ll need to stock it with. These supplies will help ensure you have everything you need while you’re on the water—and might even save your life.

Supplies for Your First Boat

Before heading out on the water, make sure your boat is equipped with the following supplies, at minimum:

  1. Rope (and extra rope). You should always have rope on your vessel. You’ll use it to tie your boat to the dock, but it may also be useful for a number of other things, such as using it to pull in someone who has fallen off the boat. Someday, you’ll be grateful you packed extra rope as well—just in case your primary rope fails.

  2. A VHF radio. Your boat may have a VHF radio built in. If this is the case, you may not need an extra. But if you don’t have a VHF radio, this should be one of your highest priorities; you can get a VHF fitted for your vessel or purchase a portable one. Even if your boat has a fixed VHF radio, it’s still a good idea to have a portable one as a backup – you can’t take the fixed one with you if you need to abandon ship. While you’re at it, write up and laminate all your emergency VHF safety announcements.

  3. A good knife. Anglers know the importance of having a good knife on board, and possibly several knives. You’ll need it to cut fishing line, prepare fish, cut rope, and handle dozens of other little tasks. Make sure you keep your knife clean and somewhere it can’t be found by little ones.

  4. A multi-tool. Your knife may also be part of a multi-tool. A good multi-tool will offer a variety of different functional tools, all in one compact form. For example, you might have access to a wrench, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver in one handy item. You never know when you might need to issue a quick repair—and this multi-tool can bail you out of a wide range of bad situations.

  5. A kill cord (and a spare). The kill cord is a safety mechanism used to stop the engine in case the driver goes overboard or is no longer able to control the boat. The spare kill cord can be used to restart the engine, which might be necessary to retrieve the person who fell overboard.

  6. Lifejackets. Speaking of going overboard, make sure your boat is equipped with lifejackets. Depending on where you’re boating, it may be a legal requirement to have children wear lifejackets while on the boat. Even if there are no legal requirements, it’s important to have lifejackets of multiple sizes for the safety of those onboard.

  7. Flares. You may feel like a signal flare is unnecessary, especially if you’re going to stick close to home. And hopefully, you’ll never need one. But if you ever find yourself in a position where you’re stranded, you’ll be grateful you have one. Signal flares are inexpensive and can enable you to call for help if you’re broken down, or if your other forms of communication aren’t working. They’re also useful day or night.

  8. A first aid kit. Every boat should have a basic first aid kit onboard. A solid first aid kit will have bandages, wound dressings, cloth tape, antiseptic material, an emergency blanket, latex gloves, a cold compress, gauze, tweezers, a thermometer, and other items designed to help you respond to an injury or health emergency. You should also check your first aid kit often and restock it when necessary.

  9. An anchor and line. Some people believe that their boat doesn’t truly need an anchor—especially if they aren’t going to spend much time on the water in a given session. However, an anchor is a must-have emergency item. If you’re ever stranded, you’ll need to anchor yourself to prevent drifting, and you’ll need some extra line while you’re at it.

  10. Motion sickness pills. You may feel perfectly fine when you’re out on the water, but that might change if things get especially turbulent. And if you’re taking a passenger on the water for the first time, you may not know how they’re going to handle the motion. Having some motion sickness pills on hand is a good idea to mitigate this risk.

  11. Extra food and water. The best survival items are often the simplest: food and water. Store some extra non-perishable food and purified water on board. If you’re ever stranded, or if you’re on the water for far longer than you originally anticipated, you’ll have plenty of sustenance to keep you going.

  12. Extra clothes. It’s also a good idea to store some extra clothes on your vessel. If you fall overboard and your clothes are soaked, you’ll want a dry pair to change into. If you’re stuck on the water late at night and it gets cold, you’ll be glad you have an extra layer to wear.

  13. A fire extinguisher. You never know when you might have to deal with a fire onboard, especially if you’re not confident in the engine or electrical work of the vessel. A fire extinguisher can instantly save the day, assuming you have one accessible.

  14. Sunscreen. Heavy sun exposure can damage your skin, increasing your risk of skin cancer and leaving you with painful sunburns. There’s an easy solution to this problem, and that’s putting on sunscreen proactively and repeatedly whenever you’re outside for prolonged periods of time. You’ll find it much more convenient and easier to remember to put on sunscreen if you keep it directly on your vessel.

  15. Bug spray. Similarly, it’s a good idea to keep bug spray onboard. When the bugs come out and begin to get annoying, you’ll have some way to defend yourself. Like many of the items on this list, you may find you never need it—but if you do need it, you’ll be glad you have it.

Once you have your boat stocked, create a checklist of all these important items and be prepared to add new items as you see fit. Take inventory regularly to ensure you never run out. 

Finding the Right Boat

If you’re still in the early stages of buying a boat, supplies may be a secondary consideration. Your biggest priority will be choosing the right vessel for all your aquatic needs. One of your best options is to look online for a vessel, where you can explore new and used options from all over the country—or maybe all around the world. Check out our collection of boats for sale today, and chances are, you’ll find something that perfectly fits your needs.

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