Essential Marine Accessories

Essential Marine Accessories

Boat owners often complain that there's not enough room for all the stuff they want to bring aboard. At the same time, it makes sense to double down on some critical marine accessories. If your motor dies, if you get caught in fog and can't get back until dark, if you take a rogue wave over the gunwale, these extras can make all the difference. — Tux Turkel

Essential Marine Accessories

Flares
Why: Three handhelds can meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, but adding aerial flares, which launch up to 500 feet high, improves the chances you'll be seen. Tip: Store in waterproof container. Buy at the start of boating season to optimize compliance with the 42-month expiration requirement.

Essential Marine Accessories

Sunscreen
Why: Burnt boaters are unhappy boaters. Look for brands judged best for water resistance, and plan to reapply after swimming. Tip: Sunscreen has an expiration date. Don't forget lip balm.

Essential Marine Accessories

Serious Flashlight and Batteries
Why: A bright light can help you get home after dark. Tip: Store a spare, sealed pack of alkaline batteries aboard. They last for years. A spare flashlight is not a bad idea, either.

Essential Marine Accessories

Fuel
Why: See "paddles." Don't underestimate the potential for stronger currents and waves, or a change in itinerary. Tip: Remember the "rule of thirds": one-third of a tank to go out; one-third back; one-third for emergencies.

Essential Marine Accessories

Anchors and Line
Why: Safety and convenience. A grapnel anchor, or a PVC-coated river or mushroom anchor, takes up little room. It'll be handy for gunkholing or emergencies. Tip: Stow enough rode for the deepest water you expect to encounter.

Essential Marine Accessories

Manual Bailers
Why: If you're taking on water and your bilge pump quits, you're sunk. Tip: A manual bilge pump won't fail. Some can slurp up to 13 gallons a minute. In an open boat, a five-gallon drywall bucket can hold gear until needed.

Essential Marine Accessories

Paddles
Why: You can move a small boat surprisingly well with paddles. Keep two aboard. Consider a whitewater canoe style with a long, aluminum shaft, T-grip and polyurethane blade. Tip: Is your boat tight for space? Telescoping paddles slide down for easy storage.

Essential Marine Accessories

Food and Water
Why: Your crew will be happier and more comfortable with extra drinks and high-energy snacks, if your trip doesn't go as planned. Tip: Don't skimp on bottled water. Stow nutrition bars and dried fruit packs in airtight, plastic food containers.