11 Essential Items to Be Prepared When Boating
There's nothing, not one thing, worse than marking a boat day on the calendar for a month out, packing the car and launching the pontoon boat in the lake only to start hearing the engine sputter and stop.
Nobody wants boat trouble on the lake, but boats are finicky and can have many issues.
The real question is how to be ready for problems that come up like this. I have had frustrating issues out on the boat plenty of times.
Often you just have to find a way to fix problems as soon as they come up. It's difficult knowing what you need to be ready for anything, but after a while, I learned that there are a few very basic items that can prevent about 90% of the problems you'll encounter that could derail your boating trip.
Here they are.
1. Portable Utility Battery
When you are out in the middle of a lake, you don't have a wall outlet to plug your electronics into, such as a GPS or fishfinder. So, being able to charge it anywhere like out on a toon is invaluable.
That's why I recommend a portable power bank. The one I recommend has two USB outlets, a DC power outlet and an LED light. It can also jump car batteries.
However, seeing as some toons do not have an outlet to charge your phone, you may be simply wanting to charge your phone while you're spending the day on the lake.
In this case, you may not need a battery so powerful or big. You can also get smaller portable chargers that just charge via USB. These are almost always just used to charge cell phones or small devices, but the small size and much cheaper price makes them very versatile and easy to keep with you.
I would also recommend a single or double USB portable charger like this Anker model.
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You could also go solar on your pontoon, and bring along a few portable solar panels.
2. Extra Prop and Prop Wrench
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You never know what could happen when you're out boating. This includes damaging a prop. It can be extremely difficult if a prop gives out mid-trip.
It could be very handy to have an extra prop stowed away for such situations. It's also helpful as you'll always have your spare right with your boat. You won't need to store it in the garage and have to find it again later.
When dealing with a malfunctioning prop, you're definitely going to want to be able to get something done. You may have to readjust, tighten or remove the prop.
In a crunch, you aren't going to want to have to cancel your day due to a lack of tools. A floating prop wrench can also help you untangle grass, reeds or other plants that tangle up on your boat.
It is always a good idea to be ready for personal emergencies. Guys and ladies alike. While you should always be personalizing your preparations, it is good to have items such as bandages, a good first aid kit, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other such items.
4. Duct Tape or Electrical Tape
If you can't fix something with duct tape, you aren't using enough duct tape. Duct tape can be extremely helpful when in a pinch.
Duct Tape was originally invented by Johnson & Johnson's Permacel division during WWII. The US Military wanted a strong, WATERPROOF tape that could keep moisture out of ammunition boxes.
This is exactly the kind of resource you're going to want at your disposal on a pontoon. Such a versatile and effective tool can be more helpful than most realize.
If an item breaks, duct tape or waterproof tape can usually keep it working long enough that you can have time to get it repaired. It's also helpful for repairing wear and tear on life jackets or your vinyl seats, a small rip can be disastrous if not taken care of.
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5. Assorted Tools
Aside from a prop wrench, you may need a few more boat tools every now and then. Such tools might include a few screwdrivers or a wrench.
While these obviously won't fix major boat repairs, they could fix a few small tune-ups needed on board. If you find a loose screw or bolt somewhere, you'll want to tighten it quickly. If it falls out, it can be a pain to find or replace.
6. Power Snacks
Despite assuming that you'll bring snacks with you when you go boating each time, we're still human, and we still forget. Having a few granola bars or nonperishable snacks stowed away might come in handy if you don't bring enough food or end up staying longer than you planned.
Just remember that sugary snacks will give you energy for a while, but you'll also have an energy crash soon after that can leave you sleepy, hungry, cranky and unable to concentrate. Healthier snacks will give you more energy throughout the day.
7. Water, Water, Water
Even if you are out of the sun, dehydration can be a serious danger. Also, if you're swimming around and playing in the water, your body is exerting energy and is perspiring. You won't feel it as easily because most water you go boating on is much colder than our body temperature.
This means that while you're cooling off in the water, your body is trying to keep up the internal body temperature so that you don't get hypothermia.
Because you feel cool in the water, you're tricked into thinking that you don't need to drink. The wind will also evaporate sweat off of your body, which dulls your sense of water loss. In all actuality, you need water more than usual. Drink water even if you don't feel thirsty.
If you're thirsty, you're actually already dehydrated. Bring water with you when you go boating. Just in case you finish off that water, keep a few gallons of fresh water on board.
Try to cycle the water out for fresh water every few weeks, though.
8. Blanket and/or An Extra Jacket
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This one isn't so much a necessity as it is convenient. If you're out fishing early, it could get brisk. You may want to toss on that extra layer to keep warm.
Remember to check what the blanket is made of. Cotton will soak through quickly and will just be cold. Wool will still soak, but will keep you warm even if wet.
A fleece blanket would do fine, but can get heavy when wet. If you get a lot of spray while boating, you may want to use a waterproofing spray like Better Boat's Fabric Waterproofing Spray on your jacket, blanket or even your shoes.
9. Trash Bag
If you're eating granola bars or other packaged snacks, you don't want to drop them on the ground in your boat. They could fly out and end up polluting the wonderful environment you're enjoying.
Keep a bag on the boat to put trash in. Remember to have no trace left behind when you leave - this keeps nature clean for everyone else and for you when you go next.
Trash Bags are also helpful for putting items in that you would like to keep dry. Extra changes of clothes or an extra jacket could easily be stored in one.
10. Map or GPS
No matter how much of a man you are, you may still need a map. Being able to see and know where you are is a good way to be safe.
Maps of the water you're boating on also help you know where there may be no wake zones or speed limit zones. Not to mention that looking at a map could help you know where the fish might be if you're fishing.
While a paper map can always be helpful, there are many other options. You can also use other methods such as a GPS you put on your dash or even something as simple as an app for your phone.
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Were you to find yourself out on the water when it begins to get dark, you can find yourself blinded and lost. In the event that you do end up getting caught in that situation, you will want to have a good spotlight to get you back to the shore safely.
While there are some spotlights you can attach to your boat, you can also get a large handheld one that can also work well.
Now obviously, there are more things that could be added to this list, based on where you live, what kind of boat you have, what you're boating for and when you're out.
You'll have to modify this list. Feel free to add, remove or change things on the list to suit what you need.
If I missed something major, or if you have another helpful suggestion, comment about it. Everyone can benefit from more ideas.