Boating is the ultimate outdoor adventure for those who love being on the water.
The various shades of blue water and the cool ocean breeze are just some of the reasons why people take on boating as a hobby.
Boating also happens to be the best weekend adventure to unwind and reset your mind after a long week. But, your boating trip could very quickly turn into a horror story if you don’t have the right equipment.
Keeping that in mind, here we are going to list the essentials when it comes to boating gear so that you can make the most out of your adventure the next time you set sail. So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into it.
- 1 Navigation Systems
- 2 Safety
- 3 Maintenance (Oils, Reserve Parts For The Engine)
- 4 Covers
- 5 Deep Cycle Batteries
- 6 Boating Clothes
- 7 Marine Electronics
- 8 Trailers
- 9 Conclusion
Marine navigation systems and techniques are used to help guide your boat from point A to point B. Navigation systems are essential pieces of boating gear since there are no road signs on the open water.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, gone are the days where navigation the open seas required an astrolabe or a sextant.
Nowadays, those who set sail on their sailboats have a plethora of navigation equipment at their disposal to keep them from steering off course and getting lost out at sea (which can be a terrifying experience).
It is best to learn the different functions and how to operate different navigation systems that are used by modern-day seafarers.
A gyro compass is an essential component of navigation in the sea. The gyro compass is used to find the correct direction when traveling from one place to another.
Unlike the traditional magnetic compass, a gyro compass isn’t hindered by the external magnetic field that often takes ships off course.
With a gyro compass, you can find true north, which is the earth’s rotational axis, making it a more stable and accurate directional source while at sea.
Also, a repeater system should also be present in the steering platform in case of emergencies.
Having a good radar system makes it easy for you to have all the information you need regarding your position.
The information that a radar system offers allows you to tell the position of your boat in relation to other vessels that are near and far along with the distance between your boat and the nearest land.
Modern boats already come with build-in radar systems, but it is easy to get a radar system installed in your boat if it doesn’t have one already.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS offers the most accurate measure of one’s speed, location, which helps with navigating the vessel you’re in when out at sea.
Effective marine navigation using GPS ensures increased accuracy and safety, which is why it is an essential part of a boat’s navigation system.
This is also one of the reasons why boaters and even mariners and oceanographers use some form of navigation apps for their boats.
GPS apps make it easy to find out certain crucial information, such as buoy placement, locating navigational hazards, surveying, and mapping an area.
Even commercial fishing fleets make good use of GPS and GPS apps to keep track of fish migration and find optimal fishing locations, which is another reason to use a GPS is you plan on dropping anchor and catching some fish for dinner.
While the term autopilot is something that most people quickly associate with airplanes, an autopilot system is also used in boats as well.
These systems serve a similar purpose in a boat as on an airplane, which is to take over the steering and navigation of the vessel when you’re tired.
Since it’s not advised for you to keep on steering the boat and making navigational adjustments for hours on end, the autopilot is put in place to kick in so you can get some shuteye.
Modern autopilot systems used in boats work by being connected to the onboard computers and radar, which helps them keep the boat on course even when you’re not behind the wheel.
Google Maps can be used to plot a journey or estimate distances and plot routes. It should be noted here that Google Maps does not offer directions in a boat as it does to road vehicles.
This is why boaters use navigation apps that are built specifically to contain detailed information related to navigating boats.
That said, Google Maps can be used when it comes to planning a boating or sailing route, and boaters can also take advantage of Google Maps and its satellite view to survey an area of water you plan on sailing out to.
However, for accurate, no-nonsense navigation, stick to the GPS apps.
As boaters, there are many times when you will be sailing in waters where you will not be sure of the depth of the water, or maybe you’ve ventured out to a new area for the first time and aren’t familiar with the terrain.
In both cases, an echo sounder can save you from having to play the guessing game and save your boat from a lot of damage.
This technology works by using sound waves to help determine the actual depth of the water under the boat.
This is a very nifty tool to have for any avid boater and minimizes the risk of your boat ramming into something that’s below the sea line and not visible to the naked eye.
Long-Range Tracking and Identification System (LRIT System)
According to the rules and regulations of the International Maritime Organization (MIO), all vessels that are out at sea need to carry an LRIT system.
This enables the identification and tracking of vessels regardless of where it is in the sea and is an essential piece of equipment since it offers added safety should you get lost or be in distress while at sea.
It is crucial that you make sure your system is fully functional before leaving the docks because the LRIT system can be the difference between life and death.
Disconnect Electronic Engines After Every Season
It is a good idea to disconnect the electronic engine of your boat at the end of each season. This is mainly because the electronic engines of today are incredibly voltage-sensitive.
This can lead to problems with the boat’s engine once the offseason is over, and you want to get back on the water.
Disconnecting an electronic engine after every season is the smart thing to do when it comes to boat maintenance since it helps avoid a drain while allowing the engine to maintain the right reference point.
Check the Battery
The battery has an important function in your boat, whether it’s making sure the bilge is dry to running the various other electrical components in your boat.
You will need to check the battery on a regular basis or at least every couple of days to ensure that the battery is properly charged.
While the battery charge requirements will differ depending on the type of boat you have and how much it’s used, over time, you will get a good idea of how long the battery in your boat can last before it needs to be charged.
Inspect for Stress Cracks
After every season, your boat is probably going to be put away for a while. That means it could be standing in the marina for a few days or weeks on end.
Regardless of how many times you take your boat out on the water, whenever you do, your boat is faced with a tremendous amount of pressure.
This usually results in stress cracks that may appear on your boat after some time. It’s important to inspect the hull of your boat for any damage or cracks that may appear after it’s been used for a while.
The same goes for the belts, hoses, and cables as well. These cracks might also appear after the boat has been stored for a while as well.
Make sure any cracks or damage to the hull is fixed and that the bung is in. You should also clean the hull, along with the deck and topsides, and make sure the drain plug is secure.
Inspect the Sails
One of the first things you will need to inspect is the general condition of the sails on your boat. This is going to mainly depend on the number of times you’ve used the boat in the past weeks or months.
But, even if your boat hasn’t been active lately, it’s still best to carry out a quick inspection of the sails to look for any signs of chafing or wear and tear.
Also, inspect the battens and their pockets, the bolt rope, and any other sail attachments. Repair or replace anything that’s not working properly since even the malfunctioning of a tiny component can bring your voyage to a quick and abrupt end.
While you’re at it, inspect the canvas, upholstery, and cover of your boat carries out an important function.
All canvas and upholstery of your boat need to be maintained regardless of whether the boat is used frequently or not. Torn canvases or upholstery needs to be replaced to keep your boat protected during the offseason.
Inspect the Galley
Turn your attention to the galley. Check all of the manual and electric valves, fill up the propane tank, and also inspect the storage box vent.
Clean the refrigerator along with the stove and make sure they are both in good working order. Make sure the refrigerator on board is cooling properly and that all burners of the stove are operational.
Replace the Transmission Gear Casing Lubricant
Replace the lubricants that are present in the transmission-gear casing.
This will ensure that no contaminants remain in the engine that can lead to further damage if the engine is not in use for a prolonged period of time.
Inspect the Propellers and Prop-Shaft
If your boat is going to be sitting in the marina, it’s advised that the propeller is pulled, and any dry grease is also removed from the shaft.
A malfunctioning prop-shaft seal is normally caused because of a discarded fishing line getting jammed between the seal, so make sure the prop-shaft seal is tight and secure.
Maintenance (Oils, Reserve Parts For The Engine)
Not keeping the boat engine maintain can make the difference between enjoying a boating trip and having to row back to shore.
This is why keeping the engine properly maintained is an essential part of enjoying your boat.
For those who take out their boat regularly, they should carry out engine maintenance after every three months to ensure that their boat’s engine remains in optimal condition.
If you have an outboard motor, then here are some tips to make sure it stays in good shape.
Once you return from every outing in your boat, check all of the moving parts of the motor. Make sure that the motor has been properly turned off first. Remove the cover and then check the water filtration, including the hose for any leaks.
You can spray moving parts with a hydrophobic solution. This will ensure that the engine remains in good shape even if it is not being used for a prolonged period of time.
You should also inspect the spark plug for signs of any corrosion after every trip. Apart from that, it is also a good idea for you to carry spare spark plugs in the tackle box just in case you need them while you’re at sea.
This is especially important if you are using a small size outboard motor for your boat.
Check for Oil Leaks
While you’re at it, you will also have to check for any oil leaks that can end up with your boat in need of serious repair later on.
If you notice patches or leak marks around the tank or piping, then it’s best to contact your boat repair shop to get it properly inspected and fixed.
While you’re at it, inspect the fuel lines and clamps for leaks and corrosion, along with all other hoses and lines for signs of possible wear and tear.
The Spare Parts You Can’t Do Without
A boat engine is made of many moving parts. It is essential for all of these parts to work properly in order for the boat to keep moving forward.
Just like with the engine of a car, boat engines tend to give up on you just when you need it most (especially if you don’t carry out regular engine maintenance).
This means that there certain spare parts that you are going to need for your boat and that you simply can’t do without.
Here, we are going to go through the list of some of the essential spare parts that every boating enthusiast simply cannot do without when going out to sea.
While the specific parts that you should carry as spares for your boat are mainly going to depend on the type of boat you have, there are certain spares that every boat owner simply can’t do without.
For instance, you should always have a spare anchor. This is because the first thing you are going to need if the engine dies and you’re in the middle of nowhere is an anchor.
Dropping the hook while your engine is dead might not cut it, which is why you are going to need two at all times.
The spare anchor should be of a different pattern to ensure your boat is able to handle a variety of bottom conditions once you do drop anchor.
A spare impeller is another important piece of equipment that every boater can’t do without. You should carry a spare impeller for every raw water pump on board just to be safe.
An engine that’s overheated because a plastic bag is obstructing the seawater supply can damage the impeller.
This can be dangerous since a damaged impeller can easily break, and its pieces can scatter around the cooling system in your boat.
Having spare impellers means you can change any damaged impeller on the fly without having to wait till you get to shore.
You should also always have extra coolant onboard so that you can refill the system at least twice.
While the exact amount of coolant you are going to need is again going to depend on the engine, you can trust your experience to know the amount of coolant you need to carry.
As a rule of thumb, it should be enough to top-up without the need to dilute the coolant with water.
It’s always advised to carry spare elements for the fuel filters because the day you think you won’t need them is the day the sea churns up fine sediment that enters the fuel tank and clogs the system.
You should also always have a sealable container where you can drain the primary filters. The same goes for oil filters, transmission, and oil, which should always be on board when you set sail.
Your boat is going to endure a tremendous change in temperature and humidity levels while standing at the docks or while out at sea.
To keep your boat safe from salt air, dirt, pollution, and other elements, you are going to need a boat cover. There are various types of covers that you should use when it comes to protecting your boat.
For instance, you are going to need a different storage cover, which will be designed to fit on the boat loosely and is a great choice for when your boat is standing at the dock.
On the other hand, a trailer cover needs to have a snug fit and have special reinforcement for high-wear areas so that it can withstand the elements and wind while traveling from one place to another.
The boat cover you choose should be made of a fabric that’s the perfect balance between breathability and should have water repellent features. Keeping that in mind, coated synthetic fabrics are good options.
It should also be noted that the polyester and cotton blended covers available are not going to be as strong as compared to the synthetic fabric covers.
Pigment dyed polyester fabric is also another great option to keep your boat protected from heat, rain, and UV light as well.
When it comes to the color or dye of the boat cover, it is recommended that you go with a dark color rather than going for a light-colored boat cover.
This might sound strange since dark colors tend to attract heat, but the darker the dye is, the more it contributes to the UV resistance of the cover, which is what you actually need.
When measuring the boat cover, always make sure to take into consideration all of the equipment that you wish to protect with the cover. That said, you do not want to make the boat cover fit too tight, or it might tear easily.
On the other hand, a very loose cover will billow in the breeze, which is also what you don’t need.
To make sure your boat is protected at all times, you need to get the measurements right and use enough tie-downs to make sure that the boat is secure.
Deep Cycle Batteries
One of the most complex questions that every boat owner has to answer is choosing the right battery for your boat.
While you are going to have quite a few options when it comes to batteries for your boat, the deep cycle sealed lead acid battery is a good choice if you are looking for a battery that’s designed for deep cycling applications.
The deep cycle batteries are different from the other types of boat batteries because they contain fewer plates as compared to the starting or cranking batteries.
The plates that are fitted into deep cycle batteries are also thicker, which results in a lower max current battery due to the limited surface space but does make the deep cycle batteries capable of achieving a significantly deeper state of charge.
Typical deep cycle batteries are discharged 50% of the total capacity of the battery, before being recharged.
This type of cycling is used so that the battery is able to provide a consistent current for a longer period of time. Deep cycle batteries are used to start the engine of the boat.
Deep cycle lead-acid batteries are categorized according to their amp hour rating or AHr, which is basically the measure of the overall capacity of the battery.
It is also important to note that the deep cycle batteries come in two types – GEL and AGM.
Just like any other hobby, there are some essential articles of clothing that you simply cannot do without when you go out boating. Some of these essential boating clothes are:
- A sun hat
- A raincoat (just in case)
- Warm pants (depending on where you are)
- A sweater (again, depending on where you are)
- A sun shirt to keep yourself protected from UV rays
- Sailor jackets
- Sailor shoes
- A good pair of gloves
Marine electronics that you are going to use in your boat are going to play a big role in your safety.
The electronic devices that are part of boating gear assist boaters with everything from charting courses, to monitoring water depth and searching for fishing areas.
Since there is a raft of marine electronics that you can use in your boat, here are a few of the essentials (since we’ve covered a few others in the previous section).
VHF Marine Radio
Most marine VHF radios operate between frequencies of 152 MHz to 176 MHz. What places fixed mounts above hand-held mounts is the fact that they have longer antennas. All radio work on a line-of-sight basis.
The taller the antenna is, the further it will be able to see, which increases the chances of it successfully sending and receiving signals.
As long as there is another antenna within sight on the horizon, your radio will be able to transmit a message. You do need a license for the VHF Marine radio.
The radio license is the key to obtaining the unique vessel identification number, known as the MMSI, which will aid rescue and recovery during emergencies.
To apply for a radio license, you will have to fill out a 605 form for a ship’s radio at Federal Communications Commission.
As the name implies, the chart plotter is going to help you navigate through your course. Chart plotters also come with built-in features that take all the guesswork out of plotting your next course.
That being said, chart plotters can’t do everything. For instance, a chart plotter uses a GPS signal that could get you to where you want to go, but can sometimes be off by as much as 50 feet or even more.
A depth sounder is used to tell you the depth of the water under the boat. This is an invaluable tool to ensure that you don’t ram against any rocks that aren’t visible from the surface.
This is a great tool to have when traveling to areas where there is a large tidal exchange. A depth sounder can tell you if there is enough space between the bottom of your boat and the surface below so that you can moor in the area.
A fuel flow meter is used to help determine the rate of flow of the fuel tank to the boat’s engine. This gives you an idea of the most efficient engine rate for the boat if you’ve charted with rpm.
It should be noted that a fuel-flow meter is not to be used as a gas gauge since they are not designed to tell you the amount of fuel that’s left in the fuel tank.
Night Vision Goggles and Cameras
These are invaluable when it comes to spotting any obstacles that are in the way of your course in low-light environments.
It should be noted here that infrared goggles are not efficient in a fog and are only to be used under dark conditions.
Also, the night vision goggles or cameras are only effective in letting you see objects that are just a few hundred feet away from the boat.
If you are lucky enough to own your own boat, then you are also going to need a trailer to transport your pride and joy and the boating gear to and from the dock when needed.
Purchasing a trailer is pretty much a packaged deal when it comes to owning your own boat.
When loading your boat onto the trailer, it is crucial to ensure that it is properly secured. Take a walk around the trailer and the boat and double-check to see that the boat is attached and tied down securely.
Inspect the coupler to see if it closes securely and is not rusty or showing signs of wear and tear.
Also, check the safety chains to see if they are attached securely to the trailer to the boat. The chains should always be crossed for better maneuverability while you’re on the road.
Also, check the wiring connections and ensure that the brake lights and turn indicators of the trailers are working properly to keep you safe while driving to or from the marina.
So, there you have it, these were just some of the boating gear that you need to keep in mind when to ensure that your boat remains in optimal shape for longer.
These tips can also help save your life in an emergency situation, which is why they should not be ignored.
If you do feel that something’s odd with your boat, get it checked by a technician or boat mechanic as soon as possible since an issue when diagnosed early on can be a lot less expensive as compared to waiting for the engine and other components to get really bad and malfunction in your boat.