Safety is not sexy.
It is, however, paramount to anything else on the water, be it catching fish, sight-seeing, or having fun. All of those things are important, but we take nothing as important as the safety of our guests.
This post outlines a few of the items you need to have on your vessel, or that we have on ours. Make sure to check your local regulations to ensure your boat is compliant.
- Horn – $15 – walmart.com – I think the regs basically require you to have a device capable of producing a warning blast – these airhorns from Wal-mart will do the trick.
- Fire Extinguisher – $52 – amazon.com – Again, you’ll need to check your own boat requirements, be we never leave the dock without this on board. The money is small for the peace of mind. This one by Kidde is a great model.
- Flares – $40 – walmart.com – You must have VSD’s (visual signals of distress) on board your vessel – and make sure they have not expired, as this will assure you a citation. Wanna know how I know you will get a citation for these expiring? You guessed it. In fact, on my first boat, I had no clue flares could expire. Lesson learned, thank you very much.
- Handheld Marine Radio – $110 – basspro.com – there are 4 million of these on the market, all in the marine band. This is a good entry-level model.
- Kent Life Jackets – $50 – westmarine.com – these are the USCG Type I approved type that must be carried on any commercial boat. These are the life jackets I have on my boat for my customers. 1 per person, appropriate for the size (meaning, kids must have jackets that fit)
- Manual Bilge Pump – $24 – amazon.com – this thing isn’t required. But, having had my bilge pumps go out and a crack in the livewell intake while 35 miles into the Everglades*, this is well worth the $24. *This is truly a funny story that I will share with you soon; but it didn’t feel very funny at the time.
- Throw Cushion – $15 – boatsupplyonline.com – This is the thing in your safety arsenal that will get the most use, as somebody will often use this for comfort after a long day (please note – it’s not very comfortable). USCG Type IV
- Running lights – $30 – boatstore.com – these are the next lights I’ll put on my boat, as the LED’s will consume less power at no sacrifice in visibility. Make sure your running lights are in complete order before your next trip out, day or night, since you never know what may happen while you’re on the water.
- First Aid Kit – $25 – westmarine.com – this is a must have on every boat, particularly those carrying sharp objects, a la hooks, gaffs, knives, and cobia. You can make your own, or buy a good kit with many of the essentials. If you often take out guests, make sure the kit has dramamine in it.
- Whistle – $7 – basspro.com – this thing is piercingly loud. Never hurts to have a spare.
As we mentioned earlier, this post is not to be taken as law; it’s just a reminder and discussion of one of the more taken-for-granted parts of fishing. What is some of the safety equipment you make sure to always have on your trip?