Boating Equipment Every Boat Owner Needs

It’s time to head out to the lake or the river for a day of boating and fishing. But what equipment do you need before ever leaving the dock? Here is a list of equipment that is required on board all motorized vessels in United States:

Owner Documents: Carry all State registration papers and a photo ID every time you hit the water.

Personal Floatation Devices (PDF): Properly sized and fitted Personal Floatation Devices (life jackets) are a must for every person on board. Remember: children cannot wear adult PDF’s. They must have (and wear), the correct child-sized life jackets to be safe. All vessels 16 ft. and longer must have at least one life ring or floating cushion on board in case of a drowning emergency.

Fire Extinguisher: If your boat has an engine in an enclosed space, or a fuel tank that is in a compartment, the U.S. Coast Guard requires a fire extinguisher be on board. Double check to make sure the expiration date is still valid, otherwise it might not work in an emergency.

Visual Distress Signals: Always carry some sort of visual distress signals — red flares, universal distress flags, orange smoke, etc. – that are current and working.

Sound Making Device: Every boating vessel should have a working horn or whistle. Hand-held whistles are fine for small boats, but larger ones need a horn or whistle that can be heard for at least ½ mile, and can blow for 4 seconds.

Navigation Lights: If you’re going to be on the water after dark your boat needs the following lights:

  • A Green Light – showing from dead-ahead to 112.5 degrees down the starboard (right) side of your boat.
  • A Red Light – showing from dead-ahead to 112.5 degrees down the port (left) side of your boat.
  • A White Masthead Light – showing through the entire 225 degrees covered by both the Green and the Red lights combined.
  • A White Stern Light – that shows from dead-astern to 67.5 degrees on both sides of the stern (a total area of 135 degrees).

Make sure you always do a safety inspection of all of these must-have accessories to make sure they are in good working order before heading out to the water. Otherwise you may find yourself in deep water with the authorities, and headed back to shore with a hefty fine to pay.

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