Whenever going out on the water, even if only for a couple of hours, there are some things that are essential to have in case of emergency. Having certain equipment on board could mean the difference between a disaster and your return to land safely. Unfortunately, statistics show that there are many deaths that occur due to boating accidents that could have been prevented with the proper equipment.
Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids – Wearing it is mandatory at all times. You must always carry one of the correct size for each person on board your boat.
Bailing System – Even if you carry an electric bilge pump, you should always carry a bucket or bailer. It can be used to put out fires and it may come in handy for other things.
Anchor – To determine the right size for your boat, the anchor should weigh not less than 1.5 kg per meter of boat length, with the chain at least equal to the length of the boat and a non-floating rope well secured to the boat.
First Aid Kit – This should contain sufficient supplies to cover minor accidents or injury. You should also carry a remedy for sea sickness as well as sun block.
Alternative Power – Spare outboard, oars or paddles will help you maneuver the boat in the event of a power failure or if the wind dies away while sailing.
Fire Extinguishes – If you have an engine or cooker on board, always carry at least one. Make sure you know how to use it and see that it is served regularly.
Boat Hook – As well as being used to pick up lines, buoys and objects in the water, your boat hook can be used to check the depth of water, pushing off or helping in recovering a person overboard.
Throwing Line – Have a floating line at least 12 meters in length with a floating weight at one end.
Torch – Always carry a torch with spare bulbs and batteries.
Protective Clothing – Carry adequate warm, protective clothing for each person on board.
In all but very small boats you will need a chart. If you go more than a couple of miles from shore, you will need a compass. A GPS and a depth sounder are worth considering. Exactly what you carry will depend on the size and type of boat and how far from land you go. It is always a good idea to talk to the Coastguard or the Maritime Safety Authority for advice.