Spare Me

A few simple extras can save your day.

January 20, 2009

The boat’s launched and ready to go. Just turn the key and…D’oh!

It’s the little things that can cause the big problems. Like forgetting that you took the key out of the boat’s ignition after the last trip and left it somewhere in the garage.

We all have our Homer Simpson moments. There’s no cure, but there is hope, which in the case of your boating activities means collecting a few spare items that can be left on board to help “goof-proof” your next outing.


Spare Ignition Key
After a few calls to Pop-A-Lock, most of us have learned to hide a spare car key under the bumper. Do the same for your boat, and stash it on board in a location that’s hidden, but also easy to remember and access — like taped under a hatch lid. And while you’re at it, make sure both of the ignition keys are attached to some kind of float.

Spare Transom Plug
Sooner or later, we all forget to put the plug in. A spare can minimize your angst. Depending on your boat’s configuration, you might want to secure the backup in the transom well or in an easily accessed stern locker that can be reached quickly whether you’re on board or still on the ramp. Keeping the spare in a readily identifiable bag or container can make it easier to locate.

Spare Gas-Cap Key
Cap keys always seem to grow legs. Next time this happens, dig out the permanent spare. To keep the spare from wandering off, secure it to something brightly colored and reasonably bulky enough so you won’t accidentally leave it on top of the gas pump after the fill-up.


Spare Kill-Switch Key
It’s designed to stop the boat and save your bacon in an emergency situation, but when the kill-switch key is misplaced or just wears out, it also shuts down the motor — and the fun. Keep a spare in the glove box. And while you’re at it, replace those tiny snaps on both kill-switch keys with a carabineer; it’s easier to use and will actually fit on a belt loop.

Spare-Items Case
Car keys, cell phones, wallets. Any small items you bring aboard are at risk of getting wet, misplaced or dropped overboard. Invest in a compact, waterproof storage case — one about the size of a brick should do it — and place your valuables inside while you’re on the water. This same little case is also a good place to keep important onboard documents such as registration papers. Visit for the best selections.


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