Do you love summer as much as I do? A time of year when you are open to numerous fun-filled activities. Camping, hiking, sunbathing at beaches, fishing, boating, and much more.
Among these, boating is my favorite. Going out on the water and leaving behind all the worries of routine life reboots me. I understand many love boating as much as I do but worry about everything they may need on the water.
For your convenience, I have formulated a list of 40 must-have boat accessories, so you rest assured nothing’s amiss.
40 Must-Have Boat Accessories
While formulating this list, I tried to cover all the essential things you may need, starting from the legal requirements to fun accessories, and from emergency equipment to necessities. Let’s dig in.
Throw Cushion/ Life Buoy
The first item making it to my list is a throw cushion or a lifebuoy. You can choose to buy one.
These are different names for a gear that serves the same purpose. It is mandatory to keep one of these on your boat.
Lifebuoys are usually tire-shaped tubes in orange and white color. You can hang it on the railing securely for any unforeseen emergency.
As for the throw cushion, it serves the same purpose. However, you can place it on your boat as a decorative cushion too and can throw it in the water if need be.
Another mandatory item to keep on your boat is the life vests. It’s a life-saving item, which must be there for every single person, no matter how many people are onboard.
In most of the US states, you must bring coast guard approved life jackets. And why not?
As a responsible human being, you cannot put the lives of children and elderly at risk by having fewer or cheap life vests.
I would recommend you to invest in good quality life vests, such as O’Brien Impulse Neo Life Vest due to its fitted design, zipper and adjustable straps.
Fully Charged Marine Fire Extinguisher
If your boat has a motor, I would strongly advise you to keep a marine fire extinguisher near it. Checking its gauge is crucial as you may end up bringing an empty can.
If you have a fire extinguisher already on the boat, make sure it’s regularly checked. Before you set sail, I would recommend you to check it for green reading (the pointer should be somewhere in the green area). That’s’ because you don’t want a hazardous incident that you can’t control due to an expired fire extinguisher.
Do you know? These fire extinguishers are classified by letters. Each letter indicate the type of fire the extinguisher is designed to extinguish:
- A – for combustible solids, wood, paper, cloth, etc.
- B – for flammable liquids and gases
- C – for energized electrical equipment
- D – for combustible metals
Find the right one depending upon your boat’s construction and material.
While on water, you must keep a sound-making device with you. It can be a horn, siren, or something as simple as a whistle.
I prefer a good old whistle on every other sound-producing device when onboard a 40 feet boat or a shorter boat. Put it in your pocket or wear it around your neck. In case of any distress or emergency, all you need to do is pick it up and blow it to call for help.
Navigational Lights and Anchor Lights
Navigational lights are red and green lights in the front of the boat. Most of the boats nowadays come with in-built navigational lights. However, there is no harm in keeping an extra pair if one of these malfunctions.
Anchor light, on the other hand, is white, mounted at a high point at the rear side of the boat. It is a detachable light that helps to see from 180 degrees. You can keep an extra pair of these as well.
In many US states, it is mandatory to switch on the navigational lights:
- An hour before sundown
- An hour after sunrise
Keeping these on throughout the night is pretty obvious already.
Another legal requirement in some states is having a functional kill switch on your boat, especially if you are boating alone. The kill switch must be attached to your life vest or shorts on one side while the other side is attached to the engine.
Do you know it is obligatory in Texas to attach a kill switch with your shorts while boating?
In case of an accidental fall, the engine shuts off, evading any possible disaster.
Emergency Flare Kit
Although boating sounds fun, getting ready for an emergency would be wise. I would recommend you to keep an emergency flare kit on board when you’re out in the coastal environment.
Check the expiry date of the flare kit. A complete set with guns and sticks costs between $45 to $100, but it’s worth it.
- Stores flare in watertight, cold, and dry places.
- They should be easily accessible
- I would advise you to check your flares regularly to keep a tab on the expiry date.
- Shoot flares into the air and away from the boat at an angle of 45 degrees
- Refrain from storing flares near flammable liquids or gases.
- If flare malfunctions, dispose of it immediately with extreme caution.
- Train your team to use flares
- Never point a flare in another person’s direction
- Treat flares as an explosive device as they are equally dangerous
First Aid Kit
Number eight on my list of 40 must-have boat accessories is the first aid kit. Need I mention the significance a first aid kit holds? Especially when you are out in the sea or a vast lake, it should accompany you.
Remember, a first aid kit is meant to be used only when a person gets a physical injury or muscular pain. Some people tend to keep oral medications in their first aid boxes, which is obviously not the right way.
That said, it’s a good idea to have some handy medicines (anti allergies, pain killers, tablets for bad stomach, etc.) separately.
Keeping things like band-aids, ointments, a pair of scissors, etc. in your first aid kit is very important, and you must not miss it.
Leatherman Multi-Tool Kit
A Leatherman multi tool kit is an all in one solution taking care of boat maintenance issues as well as solving other small problems while you’re out on the water. It comes with many tools such as a small knife, mini screwdriver, corkscrew, bottle opener, etc.
Instead of keeping a vast tool kit, having one Leatherman tool kit is a smart choice. Just put it in your pocket, and you are good to go.
If you plan to go boating on the coast or large water bodies, I would recommend investing in a VHF radio. It is a must-have and allows you to call on channel 16 or any number when you’re in line on sight.
Many models are ideal for such expeditions and are portable, as well as rechargeable.
While on a boat, having binoculars is crucial. You can use these to look for other boats, land, islands and many other things. It gives you an advantage when you are fully aware of your surroundings.
You can use binoculars for fun activities with your friends or kids as well.
If it’s your first time on the boat, I would recommend investing in the right quality fenders. You can put these around your boat to prevent other bodies from touching your boat by accident.
Made of soft rubber, these fenders help in keeping your boat’s body in good shape by protecting it from the rocks, other boats, or any sea creature.
For newbies, fenders are must-haves, especially near docks, rocky islands or areas crowded with other boats.
An essential item to keep in your boat is the dock lines. There are many types available in the market. However, I would recommend the double-braided nylon dock lines.
These are highly durable and long-lasting. Some people recommend twisted nylon dock lines, but they may untwist if cut or the seal breaks accidentally. Thus, my recommendation would be double-braided nylon lines for you.
I would also recommend you to bring some extra for any requirement that may arise.
Dip net comes in handy when you are out fishing. You can pick any light item that accidentally falls in the water instead of jumping to bring it back.
Many handy models are available in the market. However, I prefer the one with a foldable handle for secure storage.
Boating brings lots of fun opportunities. You can invest in numerous towable available in the market. Some come in the shape of a hotdog and can accommodate two to four people. A variety of other shapes and designs is available in the market, too.
However, I would recommend you to be very careful with these towable, especially if kids are involved. Be very careful in taking sharp turns. Refrain from doing it when there are other boats nearby as the towable may topple, and things go out of hands due to other boats’ presence.
Floating Lily Pads
While talking about towable, how can I miss lily pads? These are like large floating carpets on the water. Children and teenagers love to play and have fun on these lily pads.
Even you can enjoy it and have a perfect time. However, I would recommend you to use these near the beach or in shallow waters.
When done enjoying these floating lily pads, you can easily roll them up and store safely.
Diving Lily Pads
Although the name sounds quite similar, the two are entirely different accessories. The diving lily pad is somewhat like a diving board. You can fix it on your boat and can use it for diving, sitting, or relaxing.
These are durable and high quality.
Top-quality rain gear is another must-have. What if you go out fishing on your boat and end up drenched due to unexpected weather build up?
The excellent quality waterproof gear can save you from any additional fuss. I would recommend using FROGG TOGGS Men’s Classic All-Sport Waterproof Rain Suit due to its high quality and breathability.
Anchor with Line
Having a good quality and reliable anchor with a line is essential when you plan to stop in the middle of the water for fishing or water activities.
You cannot afford your boat floating away while you go down, exploring the wonders of the sea.
Cell phones serve the purpose of many gadgets. You can use it for communication, navigation, music, photography, and a lot more. Thus it makes it to my list of 40 must-have boat accessories.
I would recommend you to keep your cell phone in waterproof, zip-lock bags. This way, you can use your phone without any fear of an accidental fall.
You can use it for cutting rope, detangling knots, and many others.
One of the essential accessories on a boat is the snorkel mask.
Firstly, you can use it for diving underwater and witnessing some of the magnificent life underwater.
Secondly, you can use a snorkel mask to see if something requires you to check and see under or behind the boat.
Heavy Duty Watertight Flashlight
Heavy-duty flashlight is a must-have. If you ever need to check out something small or during heavy rain or at night, the flashlight is your best friend.
Waterproof flashlights can help you see underwater as well. While on the boat, it is better to keep a heavy-duty waterproof flashlight handy.
Sunglasses should probably make it to the top ten must-haves. A polarized pair of glasses are essential to keep your eyes safe and healthy. No sunglasses or low-quality ones can cause more damage than you can think of.
Irritation and severe allergy may occur. Do not forget to get yourself a good quality polarized sunglasses. Keep some lens solution and some soft, lightweight cloth to clean your sunglasses whenever needed.
SunScreen and Lip Balm
Nobody wants severely sunburned skin after a fun-filled day on the boat. I would recommend you to keep a good quality sunscreen to protect yourself from the sunlight.
Continuous exposure can result in overly dry, irritated, and burnt skin.
Just like sunscreen, lip balm is highly essential. A full day under the sun with no protection for your lips may end up into dry, chapped lips. In some cases, people get blisters, so do not overlook the importance of a lip balm or chapstick.
Umbrella and a Hat
As I mention the sun, let’s talk about other accessories that may protect you from the scorching sunlight in the middle of the sea.
First of all, get yourself a good basketball cap. The cap should be breathable yet provide enough protection and shade on your face from direct sunlight.
Secondly, invest in an umbrella. There are numerous options available in the market for this purpose specifically—the model range from regular umbrellas to pole mounting umbrellas, sand anchoring umbrellas and umbrella hats.
Hat umbrella does not require anything else to mount on. You can wear it on your head like a hat. Though it looks funny, the results are promising.
Just like roads, you’ve got to have a boating license to move in the water. There would be no rules and regulations if people without license roam the water bodies and bring damage to nature and public properties.
Operating a boat with a motor for recreational or any other purpose requires proof of competency. It should show that the driver/ operator has a basic knowledge of handling the boat safely.
Moreover, it shows if the person can handle a situation in an emergency. In almost all states, you need to get a boating license to own and drive a boat.
Sea to Summit 20 Liter Dry Sack
Available in many colors, the Sea to Summit Dry Sack is a must-have. It is a waterproof bag that can keep all of your belongings safe and dry. It is very lightweight with attractive design.
Keep your phone, keys, wallet, sunscreen, and many other belongings secure in the sea to summit dry sack. The folding bag comes with a single strap design for secure handling.
Davis Queaz Away Relief Bands
Davis Queaz way Relief bands are one of the gadgets with proven results. You can wear these wristbands to apply acupressure to your wrists. It helps combat seasickness symptoms while at sea.
Even with high tides and bumpy rides, you have something to fight the overwhelming seasickness. The wrist bands are washable and reusable with promising results.
NoCry Cut Resistant Gloves
While handling ropes, fishing lines, knives, and many other sharp things on the boat, you may risk cutting your hands. A deep cut on the boat may spoil all the fun you were expecting.
To avoid such misfortune, I would recommend you to invest in NoCry Cut resistant gloves. No matter how many ropes, fishing lines, knives, or sharp tools you play with, your hands are safe from such an injury.
Smith’s Adjustable-Angle Pull-Through Knife Sharpener
A knife is an essential and handy tool on the boat. A blunt knife can kill the mood and mess up the rope you are trying to cut for quite some time. Having a knife sharpener with you on the boat is one of the best ideas.
I would recommend you invest in Smith’s Adjustable-Angle Pull-Through Knife Sharpener for best results.
Mad Grit Double Parachute Camping Hammock
Hammock adds the touch of luxury in your boating experience. Although the accessory itself is not that expensive, the feeling you get is pure lush.
Get your hands on Mad Grit double parachute camping hammock, tie it on your boat and relax under the warm sun on the freshwater.
An essential thing people tend to forget when they go out boating is taking water with them. Yes, I know you are deep in the water, but you cannot drink it, especially on the sea.
Under the warm sun, you may feel parched more than you expected. Keeping a sufficient supply of water would be wise and unavoidable.
Well, it’s not an accessory if you may ask but a significant factor nonetheless. You want to check your fuel tank and get it filled. Keep some extra if you plan on going a very long distance.
One of the most important things to take with you on a boat is cooler. Whether you want to keep your water cold, or your drinks or beer, cooler is extremely important.
You need a cooler while fishing too. You can store all the fish you catch in a cooler, so it does not turn bad and stay fresh.
I would recommend you to invest in Coleman Cooler. It is a heavy-duty cooler with extreme insulation that ensures temperature maintenance for up to five days. Moreover, you get cup holders for easy placement of drinks. The cleaning is hassle-free as well.
Any activity involving water perks up the appetite, I would recommend keeping sufficient snacks for the trip. You must plan to bring some extra food for an emergency as well.
In case of any problem or misfortune, you should not fall short of food and water. You may include some granola bars, some fruit, even some chocolates as well.
On the other hand, if you plan a party with your friends on the boat, feel free to bring as much as you can. Don’t forget to consider the weather when selecting the type of food you want to bring onboard.
All set to go boating with your friends or family? Done with all the preparation? don’t forget to check your fishing equipment. A day on a water body is incomplete without fishing.
Check your tackle box, your hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, and waders. Pick up your rods and reels, and make sure you have plenty of bait.
With everything in place, you can now head for your car to take you to your boat.
Boat Brush and Cleaning tools
It is quite common to make your vessel dirty while enjoying your life, partying in the sea. But don’t leave it that way. Instead, easy and quick cleaning would be a better option.
I would recommend buying some right cleaning products and a brush with a kit to keep the dirt away. As for cleaning products, I would recommend not using alcohol-based products as they may chip off the gel coating on your boat.
You may use safe products such as boat juice, Meguiars, Boat Bling hot sauce, etc. to clean your boat.
I would recommend keeping an extra tool kit with the necessary equipment for a possible engine or boat complications.
Your tool kit may include extra bulbs, spark plugs, fuses, and other small engine components. It would help you sort out quick mechanical issues.
You can also bring a bailing mechanism or bilge pump to remove water and oars and paddles in a power failure.
Towels and Towel Clips
One of the most important things to carry to the water is a towel. Whether you go for a dip or have some fun with towable, you need to dry yourself up as soon as you come back up on the boat.
I would recommend buying a Tuvizo Beach Towel. Made up of microfibers, it is an extra-large towel with extra fast drying results.
Towel clips yield great importance too. Although small in size, these clips come in handy when you clip them with your life vest or shirt from one side and a small towel or handkerchief.
No hassle of finding a towel to clean your hands when you can also clip your gloves or cap with the clips for safekeeping and easy access.
I would like to mention one more thing as it holds significance as well – the boat cover. I would recommend you to buy a good boat cover. When not in use, keep your boat covered to protect from dust, dirt, rain, and numerous other climatic effects.
A proper boat cover is most likely to enhance your boat’s life when secured and protected.
Boating is entertaining. You can have the time of your life with various activities you may indulge in while boating. I hope my list of 40 best boat accessories helps you in finding the items you may need.
I have tried to cover all the must-haves you may need, be it on legal requirements, necessities, fun activities, or accessories you need in case of emergency.
Pick the ones that best suit your requirements and have fun boating.