Recently, I spent an evening fishing aboard a friend’s boat, and in the course of events, I asked to use his onboard flashlight. “I don’t have one,” he responded. I was dismayed. This is a captain who is meticulous about his boat, but hadn’t thought to stash away a flashlight for a night trip.
I ended up using my phone—a poor substitute for a flashlight on a boat. But the experience led me to think about the small boat essential items on my boat that make a big difference in terms of convenience and safety during outings afloat, both day and night. I am thinking about gear other than the required safety equipment and other requisite loose boating accessories such a boat hook, deck brush, tool kits, firstaid kits, sunscreen, sunglasses, trash receptacle, etc.
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I made a list of some of the little things that can often make a big difference, each available for less than $10.
- Flashlight. We’ve covered this. I carry two flashlights, as well as spare batteries for each. $8.99, harborfreight.com
- Gloves. A pair of gloves is handy in variety of chores, such as weighing anchor or handling a spiny fish. $2.97/pair, homedepot.com
- Towel. A towel keeps your hand dry. Microfiber towels are gentle for wiping clear vinyl and sunglasses. $8.99 per set, amazon.com
- Notepad and pencil. Keep a pad and pencil to jot down reminders about maintenance chores and repairs. $8.79, officedepot.com
- Bungee cords. An assortment of bungee cords helps secure items such as coolers or beanbag seats. $8.86 for 20 cords, walmart.com
- Scissors. Just about every boat has a knife, but scissors are quicker and safer for cutting line, opening packages, chunking bait, etc. $6.47/9″ stainless-steel scissor, walmart.com
- Zip-ties. Like bungees, but smaller, zip-ties can temporarily batten loose canvas or quickly repair a torn landing net. $4.99/100 pieces, target.com
- Cutting board. A plastic cutting board prevents guests from using your teak covering boards for chopping bait. $6.97, amazon.com
- Duct tape. Every boat should have a roll of duct tape for temporarily mending hoses or patching a tear in the canvas. $9.65/roll, granger.com
- Ziploc bags. A box of quart-size Ziploc bags is handy for stashing away small items or fresh fish fillets in the cooler. $5.29/48 bags, target.com