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Being prepared for an emergency is one of the biggest responsibilities you have as a boat owner.  Although there are required items to have on board in every state, it’s always best to be additionally prepared.  Whether you are boating alone or with passengers, you can take extra measures to ensure everyone’s safety.  Here are some non-required emergency items every boat owner should have aboard.


A GPS system is essential for the prepared boat owner.  A GPS can help you if you get lost, find your coordinates, and pass them on to the Coast Guard if you get stranded.  


Your radar system will let you know of any obstacles in your way.  Mainly, you’ll be picking up fish and looking for areas where the ground gets shallow so you don’t hurt your boat.  If you’re in uncharted territory, however, radar is essential to navigating your way.  If you are unaware in changes of elevation, terrain, or obstacles, you could end up in a bad situation.

White Vinegar

This is a handy item that experienced boaters always have on hand.  It is useful for jellyfish stings, and relieve itching from mosquito bites.  It’s good for your boat, too.  White vinegar can prevent ice on your windshield, and is a natural de-clogger.

Red Flares

Red flares are visible both day and night, making them the best choice for your boat.  If you ever need to flag down a passing boat, or get stuck in a situation where you need to signal land or search helicopters, these are a must-have.

Cell Phone

Not your everyday cell phone, either.  We’re a plugged-in society, and too often we are left without contact on the open sea because we use our cell phones constantly, and the battery dies.  Keep a fully charged cell phone powered off on the boat in case of emergency.  Add a basic line to your plan, or pick up a pay as you go phone.  

Marine Radio

You’ll need this in case your second cell phone malfunctions, or is out of service.  A Marine Radio will allow you to clearly communicate with the Coast Guard, and nearby boats, without interference.

Extra Rope/Line

You really can never have too much rope or line on a boat.  There are a million things you can use it for.  If your current line is worn, or if weather is especially turbulent, you’ll want the extra to tie up with.  You can also use it as a temporary fix if something breaks that needs to be secured quickly for the journey.

Ditch Bag

A ditch bag is a floating bag full of supplies that you can bring with you in the water if needed.  If the worst happens and your boat sinks, you have this bag with you in the water or life raft.  This bag is a necessity, and usually carries items such as a first aid kit, radio, emergency lights, and whistle.  

Proper boat maintenance and attention to detail will hopefully prevent you from ever getting into a situation that is too serious. When things do get rough, however, you’ll be fully prepared with these items aboard your vessel.