Safety, and MUST HAVE, Equipment for Your Boat

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Some of My Boating Equipment.

Some of My Boating Equipment Shown Above.


The summer, and boating/fishing season is almost upon us, and in order to enjoy it on your boat, you need to be prepared. Aside from the fact that some of the items are required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) they just make sense to have along so you’re covered in case of emergencies.



You need to have at least one B-1 fire extinguisher with a pressure gauge if any of the following conditions exist:

1. You boat has a permanent gas tank.

2. Has inboard motors or stern drive.

3. Closed compartments where gas cans can be stored.

4. Closed living spaces

5. Closed compartments where combustible material are stored.

6. Boat is 26 feet or more in length. 


One PFD, suitable in size for each person on board, is required for any boat on the water. They are required to be WORN at all times by children 16 or younger.


A throwable PFD, USCG approved type IV is needed if it is not a canoe or kayak and is at least 16 feet long. 


A sound producing device like a horn or an athletic whistle I required on all boats. 


Visual distress signals, approved by the USCG,  are required by all boats if operated at night. If over 16 feet, they are required at all times. There are some exemptions to this rule.


Lights are required for any boat that is operated at night. For smaller boats, a flashlight may be used. 


If propelled by machinery, your boat needs to have the registration numbers on the hull in a visible location. 


A capacity plate, showing the number of people and weight allowed and usually installed by the manufacturer, has to be permanently fastened.


Other items, not necessarily required are:

1. Second means of propulsion like a kicker motor or paddle. 

2. Dewatering device, such as a bucket or hand pump.

3. First aide kit.

4. VHF radio, even if you have a cell phone on board. Cell phones should only be considered as a back up.

5. Tools and spare parts. 

6. Anchor and anchor line. 

7. GPS device.

8. Compass.

9. Radar.

1. Binoculars, flashlight and/or spotlight.


On the Fishin’ Mission, I have all of the above, some in duplicate. There are two stern drives with a 5.7 liter v-8 driving each one. It has an automatic bilge pump AND a manually operated bilge. I carry a hand held GPS with a compass besides the permanent ones. Besides a permanently mounted VHF radio, I always carry a hand held , water submersible VHF radio AND a cell phone. There are (3) B-1 fire extinguishers and an automatic system in the engine compartment. 


Be prepared have a safe summer!


This advice is to be used as a guide only and is not considered legal. Check with your local USCG for exact details and requirements for your boat. 

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About Brian Helminen

Brian is the owner and Captain of Sand Point Charters, LLC. He also owns and operates Designotype Printers, Inc. with his wife, Margaret. They have a cottage on Lac La Belle that can be rented by the week in the summertime.

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