What to take with you
Step 1: Safety equipment and survival gear
Make sure you have the correct safety equipment and survival gear on board your vessel for the area in which you intend to operate. This will not just be the gear the law insists on. Charts, compass, water, food, extra clothing, tools and spares, extra line for the anchor and sun protection are some of the additional items you should consider.
We also recommend that you download the Skippers Checklist below, it will help ensure you do not leave home without essential equipment.
Step 2: Navigation charts and equipment
Before leaving, you should know:
- Exactly where you are going.
- How to get there.
- How long it will take to get back.
Carry a chart of the area. Check on any special boating regulations for the area you plan to visit. Marine charts give detailed information including depths, tidal range and streams, navigation hazards and anchorages.
They are essential when operating in unfamiliar areas, and more than useful at any time. Team them with local advice on local conditions.
With a chart and a compass you can:
- Work out your position (very important if you need to give your position to rescuers).
- Find a course back to shore if rain, fog, or smoke obscure the land.
Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) give an instant latitude and longitude position. They are invaluable for giving your position when using a radio to advise a shore station or other party of your position. You should also carry a chart and compass as back-up.
A depth sounder is a useful aid when approaching an anchorage or confirming chart details.
Step 3: Additional essential equipment
|Clothing||It is always colder on the water and the sun is stronger, extra jumpers, waterproofs and sunscreen are never a waste of space. Even on hot summer days you should carry at least a spray jacket, and preferably a jumper as well. These are even more important for children. Clothing should not restrict your movements or significantly reduce your buoyancy. If it is cold and you need to bulk up, wear a buoyancy garment. Check your ability to swim or float in your clothes, try it out in shallow water.|
|Fire blanket||Especially if your boat has a galley, there may be times when a fire blanket is better than an extinguisher. Extinguishing a pan of burning oil or fat is one example.|
|First aid kit||Burns, and injuries from fish hooks and gutting knives, are some of the special and not uncommon reasons for needing a first aid kit on board.|
|Fresh drinking water||This is essential on any vessel. Carry more than you think you will need, and replace the water frequently. Do not completely fill the container, you want it to be capable of floating.|
|Life buoy||Larger vessels may carry one or more life buoys, or something similar, stowed ready for throwing if a person goes overboard. It is easy to lose sight of someone in the water and in poor weather can take time to get back to them. Life buoys may have attachments including life buoy lights and buoyant lines. A light is a useful attachment.|
|Life raft||Inflatable life rafts are expensive, but are wonderful insurance for larger vessels on longer trips or travelling well offshore. They are the most efficient means of evacuating passengers and crew from a sinking boat, and are standard equipment on commercial vessels.|
|Provisions||Food is not nearly as important as water, although children may have a different view, but it would certainly be a comfort when waiting for assistance. Low protein food is better as it does not make you so thirsty.|
|Safety equipment||This site has a dedicated area on safety equipment including fire extinguishers, anchors, lifejackets, EPIRBS, distress flares and radios.|
|Tool kit||Your motors handbook will detail other checks and small repairs you can make. Carry at least enough tools to carry out all these things.|
|Torch||A buoyant and waterproof torch is best, and you should also carry spare bulbs and batteries. This does not substitute for navigation lights. All boats should display navigation light(s) at night in accordance with the collision regulations.|