Enjoying the water on your vessel of choice is one of the purest and most satisfying pleasures any person could ever hope to enjoy.
But, as every good sailor knows, even the most innocent looking water can quickly become deadly if the circumstances turn against you.
There’s no reason in the world you should ever be prevented from boating, it’s more than just a hobby, the sea water soon begins to run through your veins to the point you can never see a time in your life you didn’t do it.
To make sure however that you get the safest enjoyment possible, always make sure that you have access to the following items on your boat. They should be stored securely, and somewhere you can lay your hands on them easily in the case of an emergency either befalling you or someone you encounter.
This is far from an exhaustive list of marine safety products; however, these can be considered the bare essentials to make your journey as safe and as rewarding as possible.
The Personal Flotation Device is certainly one of the most essential things you can carry, we have long since understood the dangers of going into the water without some sort of flotation aid. However, it’s not quite as simple as that.
The right PFD for you will depend on your craft and the type of water you will be sailing in. For example, if you’re sailing in a cold sea, you’ll need something much more substantial than you will need just dawdling around a warm marina.
There must be a PFD for every person you intend to have aboard your vessel, and they must be fit for purpose and stored securely. Run regular drills to make sure all of your passengers know how to operate them properly, as in an emergency “the obvious” is anything but.
This is where a little personal research is going to come into play on your part, as different coastal laws require different levels of standard equipment for different vessels. Check with your local coastguard what you’re legally obliged to carry and what they recommend.
Broadly speaking it’ll consist of, at its most base level, a whistle, air horn, and flares. Electronic equipment can fail so it’s beyond essential that you have a way to communicate with other vessels should you need to.
Many people forget that these items often have a “best before” date on them, so be sure to regularly check and replace your equipment as necessary. It might seem a chore, but one day you might need them and when you do you’ll want them to work properly.
You never know what you’re going to encounter, even on a stretch of water you know like the back of your hand. So, think about the things you might need to survive, after all when you’ve sent the signal for rescue you will need to wait for it to arrive.
This can consist of a well-stocked first aid kit, safety blankets, fresh drinking water, and if possible some waterproof MRE supplies. If you’re in the sea, the salt of the water and the air around you can cause dehydration quicker than most account for.
Some other essentials for your first aid kit would include a pair of scissors to cut bandages and dressings if need be, and ideally a tube of sunscreen which has not expired. Account for all eventualities and you’ll never be caught off guard.
When it works, electronic navigation systems are a true wonder, but they’re not utterly reliable. The equipment itself can become damaged, weather conditions can interrupt signals, and readings can be false.
This is why it’s never a bad plan to have some paper backups if possible. Some waterproof charts and a good old-fashioned compass can make the difference when you’re alone in the water and wondering which way is to shore.
Just having charts is not enough however, it’s essential you understand how to read them accurately if they’re going to be of any help to you.