Must-Own Gear For New Boat Owners

After buying my first boat, I realized that it doesn’t come with everything you need for a fun and most importantly a safe day on the water. I went into a boat accessory store, only to find too many options that it was hard to choose the right one. I put together this list of go-to accessories:

What Boat Accessories do I Need When I Buy a Boat?

One reality of being on a boat is that unexpected things can happen. You might face unpredictable storms, leaking hull, seasickness, empty tank, slips, and falls. You should be prepared for such situations by having some accessories in your boat like a life jacket, anchor, air horn, and first aid kit, to name a few.  Continue reading to learn more.

Must-Have Boat Accessories

Nothing is worse than heading deep into the waters, only to realize that you need something, but you don’t have it. It’s, therefore, a good idea that you countercheck that you have all the essential accessories on your boat before heading out. Here is a list of things you should always bring on your boat to make your experience more convenient and enjoyable.

First Aid Kits

Even though boating may seem like a pretty fun experience, be prepared that something wrong can happen. You need a first aid kit to help you deal with emergencies that may arise while out into the water. A safety kit will help you treat minor wounds if someone gets injured.

Sometimes people also get sick when you are a long way to the shore. A first aid kit will help you provide emergency medication before you get to a health facility. Ensure that it contains bandages, latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, soap, aspirin, alcohol prep pad, and safety pins.

Remember to include some sunscreen in your first aid kit too. Reflection on the water makes the sun rays stronger, and you might need to apply sunscreen every two to three hours to protect your skin.

Life Jackets

You should always carry along extra life jackets and vests if you wish to bring guests onboard. A life jacket is essential since it keeps you floating on water as long as necessary. Ensure that each person in your boat has a properly fitting life jacket with a safety harness attachment. Whenever people feel like jumping into the water to swim, you will rest assured that everybody is protected.

Some states have marine safety requirements stipulating the minimum number of floating devices required on a vessel. Children should always have a life jacket while on a boat, but the regulations may vary from state to state, so be sure to check this.

Must-Own Gear For New Boat Owners

There is a wide range of life jackets in the market today, and you need to choose one that best suits you. The non-inflating jackets are suitable for recreational purposes. They contain rear and front sections covering the back and the chest area of the wearer.

They also have some straps and buckles for a snug fit. You can also buy some inflatable vests and belts, especially for children and pets. If you enjoy fishing, you can opt for the fishing life jacket, which comes with extra pockets and storage spaces.

Fire Extinguisher

Of all the potential dangers you can face while sailing on a boat, a fire outbreak is the most destructive. Therefore, if your vessel didn’t come with a fire extinguisher, you need to buy one. It’s a requirement by law to have a fire extinguisher in your boat, and you might require more than one depending on your vessel’s size.

You should also ensure that you know how to use the fire extinguisher. Note that you don’t need a regular fire extinguisher but a marine one, so ensure that you note the difference. Adding a fire extinguisher ball to your engine room or cabin will help in faster fire suppression. It automatically deploys within a few seconds after contact with fire to put it out.


Every boat also needs an anchor of sufficient size and weight to hold the vessel in place. The anchors attach themselves onto the seabed with hooks to prevent the boat from drifting away. Various anchor types suit different boats and water bottoms. Some will work well in muddy regions, sandy areas, and rocks. For instance, screw anchors will provide better support in softer grounds, while the spike style works well on firmer surfaces.

Ensure that you do thorough research before buying. If you aren’t sure of the nature of the seabed, it’s a good idea that you purchase multiple anchors. They will also help you stay firm in crowded areas. It’s also worth noting that the anchors come in varying lengths and holding power. If you are unsure of your boat size, choose the heaviest option, provided that it has a sizeable chain and rode.

**Editor Pick: Buy a Fortress brand anchor. They are super lightweight and it will make anchoring up at the sand bar so much easier!

Dock Lines

The most overlooked accessory in a boat is the dock line. These lines help secure your boat onto another or to a dock when rafting. Failure to tie up your vessel correctly can be dangerous.

The dock line should be about 2/3 of your boat length. If you are going to tie up your boat in an unfamiliar dock, you will need transient dock lines. Your ship also needs some permanent dock lines strong enough to handle constant use. They should also fit perfectly to the boat in a slip.

Boat Paddle

Carrying along a boat paddle can be very helpful in case of an engine failure. It’s a lifesaver, particularly in smaller boats, since it can help you get to the shores safely. There are various options available with additional features. Some paddles have hooks, while others are foldable and fit into small spaces.

Dry Box

You will need a place to keep your items while on the boat to protect them from water. While your vessel is well designed for the marine environment, most of the things you carry along aren’t. Constant exposure to salt and water can damage your precious items, and to avoid this, you need to get a dry box.

This storage contains a water-tight seal to keep your belongings dry. The dry box floats on the water unless you put too heavy contents, so you are less likely to lose your items should it fall off.

Boat GPS

Having a boat GPS is essential in case the onboard systems fail. Although your smartphone could have an inbuilt GPS, you might need backup. Sometimes you can sail on large water bodies that extend beyond the reach of smartphone signals.

When navigating through unfamiliar waters, a GPS will guide you through. GPS systems are becoming increasingly advanced, and some even have fish finders which makes your sailing excursion more fun.

Solar-Powered Device Charger

While sailing, you will most often carry chargeable devices like phones, tablets, or laptops. Such gadgets won’t last long without charging. Like a car, your boat battery can die when used for a long time while the engine isn’t running. The boat is more likely to use up the battery faster, especially for people who enjoy running their radio and keeping the lights on.

You, therefore, need to purchase a solar panel to keep your battery alive during your adventure. However, note that the solar panel shouldn’t entirely replace other boat batteries but act as a backup plan.

Depth Finders

Knowing the water depth is so important. It helps you evade shallow waters, which can decrease upward pressure, causing the boat stern to sink deeper than usual. Shallow water also has rocks and other obstructions, and if you aren’t careful, they can damage your boat’s engine or propeller.

Additionally, measuring the depth will guide you to the right swimming places. If you dive in water that it’s too shallow, you risk hitting your head under rocks or other hard surfaces.

Extra Boat Fenders

These are padded cushions that hang between your boat and the dock. The fenders absorb shock to prevent damage when your vessel impacts the dock or hit other closely tied boats when rocked by the waves. Boat fenders come in various shapes and sizes, and your choice will depend on preference. Even if the boat may come with some fenders tied on the side, it’s beneficial to add extra ones.

Fishing Equipment

Fishing on a boat is a great way to capture fish that aren’t easily found at the shore. For fishing enthusiasts, it’s essential that you buy some fishing equipment to enhance your experience. You might need a fishing rod holder which helps you fish without holding the rod constantly.

Mount it on the boat so you can comfortably cruise along the water while doing some fishing. It will make your navigation adventure more efficient. Ensure that you also choose the right fishing rod or net. Remember also to carry along some lures to increase your chances of catching fish.

Each boat should have navigation lights to increase visibility in rainy or foggy weather. You must be able to see while navigating through the water, to avoid dangerous accidents. It’s also a necessity if you enjoy sailing early in the morning or after sunset since the lights will help you see other vessels in the dark.

Choose bright enough lights made from waterproof materials. In some states, it’s a requirement that you have either red or green lights on your boat, visible from at least two miles away. You should also install the lighting on both sides of the vessel to notify other sailors how wide your boat is.

Additionally, depending on the length of your boat, you might have to install lighting at the front and back too. You, therefore, should do enough research to determine the necessary form of illumination for your vessel. The lightings can also help get your guest into a party mood. For those who don’t plan to hold parties in their boats, the lights will help you fish at night. They even attract fish close to your boat.

Tow Lines

If you enjoy various boat sports like water skiing, tubing, or kneeboarding, consider buying tow lines. Ensure that you purchase the proper rope length to support you in the sport you intend to participate in. Also, you should have the right sporting equipment. The lines can also help tow your vessel onto another if your boat gets stuck.

Swimming Gear and Equipment

You should invest in the right gears for those who are too much into swimming. Carry your swimsuit, and choose a fabric that causes minimal resistance. For people with long hair, a swimming cap will help protect the hair from coming all over the face while swimming. You may also need goggles to protect your eyes from salty water. They will help you keep your eyes open when swimming to know where you are going.

Fun floats are other great accessories for swimming enthusiasts. You can also buy kickboards and fins to help you swim faster without overworking your body. There is a wide range of swimming equipment, and your choice will vary based on personal preferences. You can even choose to buy diving boards, and dog water floats if you enjoy doing outdoor activities with your pet.

Air Horn

You should always have a handheld air horn just if the one on your boat fails. Its primary role is to sound alarm in case of emergency and alert other sailors to come to your aid. All recreational boats should have a horn or whistle capable of sound signals half a mile away. You should also know what various sounds signals. For instance, five short blasts signify danger, while one blast signifies the intent of overtaking.


It’s a good idea that you also buy a jump starter to avoid getting stuck if your boat battery dies. These portable battery devices will help you restart the engine even when the main battery fails. A jump starter pack can also help with other charging needs. Note that you should keep your phone on while sailing since you can use it as GPS in some cases and even as a flashlight if other light sources fail.

VHF Boat Radio

Although the virtual high-frequency radios are often used in large ships and water vessels, you can also use them in your small boat to communicate offshore or make a distress call. This accessory is essential for sailors who enjoy exploring deep seas.

You can use the VHF radio to communicate with other sailors and operators when going through harbors, lock systems, bridges, and marinas. There are various options to consider depending on the type of vessel, waterbody, or the nature of traffic near you. Always keep the VHF radio close for easier access and the battery fully charged.

Dog Boat Ladder

If you have a wonderfully energetic puppy, it can be a bit challenging to pull it out of the water, especially in deeper areas where your feet can’t touch the bottom. It’s, therefore, a good idea that you get a doggie boat ladder to help them quickly hop back into the vessel.

Boat Cooler

While going out with your boat, you will most definitely bring along food and drinks. Carry a lot of water to avoid dehydration. Note that you can lose a lot of water while at the sea since there is barely any shade. You will need a cooler to prevent your food from going bad and keep your water adequately cool.

Bluetooth Speaker

It’s vital that you also buy a Bluetooth speaker to enjoy your favorite music while out into the sea. You can easily connect it with your playlist. It allows you to play music without depleting your boat’s battery. Invest in a portable and waterproof speaker since exposure to saltwater and UV rays can damage it. Pick a design that allows you to mount it on the boat sides to keep it in place no matter how shaky the vessel gets.

Check out our full review of 11 Amazing Bluetooth Speakers to use on your boat!

Water Bailing Containers

Sometimes, a strong wave can push water into your boat. It can also happen if your vessel has a crack. When you experience such an unfortunate situation, a bailing container can help you take out the water so you can get back to the shore safely. This safety item can also help you put a fire off. Based on the size of your boat, you should have a strong bailer with at least a two-meter rope attached.


A boat mirror is another essential accessory for boaters. It will help you keep an eye on whoever you are towing and enables you to maneuver safely at the dock. A mirror helps reduce strains on your neck and makes your boating experience safer.


Boating should be fun, and that’s why they’re many accessories that you can bring along to enhance your experience. You don’t necessarily need to buy all the accessories. Instead, choose what you need for your recreational activities.

Buying some entertainment and safety tools will help you explore the waters without running into difficulties. Hopefully, the above piece will help you make an informed decision.

**Looking for more great ideas? Check out this gift guide for the new boat owner in your life.