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Things you need to have on your boat

Now that you have a boat and a family waiting for the very first (or the very next!) trip, you need to make sure you don’t go on an adventure without essential equipment. Whether you’re going to chill out on a lake or go river fishing, you want everyone to be safe on the water.

How many times have you forgotten about some necessary and useful stuff? And recalled it just the moment you’ve arrived at the place? We’ve all been there, and for this reason, we’ve created a list of family boating essentials.

So you don’t have to. 🙂


We’re starting with the documentation because, among all other items, these are always mandatory.

Boat registration

Your valid boat registration should always be with you when you’re on the water. If you get pulled over by the police or any other kind of law enforcement, you need registration, just like you would in a motorcycle or a car.


The same goes for your license if the boat you’re owning requires one. For small boat owners, this rule doesn’t apply, though. In the majority of EU countries, the license is not required if the boat doesn’t exceed the limit of 15 meters in length, or it’s not a motorboat that can go over 20 km per hour.

A good tip from us: use waterproof covers for your documents. You don’t need an accident to soak your belongings, so better be safe than sorry.

General equipment

These are the essentials in every boat trip, no matter who you go with, for what purpose, or on what kind of water. They will both make your trip safer, and more pleasant.

Life jacket

You don’t have to wear it at all times, but you do have to make sure that there’s one jacket for each person on the boat. Kids and non-swimming travelers should be always wearing them.

First aid kit 

Waterproof bandages, sterile gauze, antiseptic, and painkillers. These might come in handy if you get hurt in the middle of the river or a lake. Getting immediate help on a boat is not always easy.

Visual Distress Signals (V.D.S.)

Even if they’re not mandatory in your country, you want to have at least one device to summon help when an immediate emergency occurs. It can be a signal flare or even a solid watertight flashlight.

Extra rope

It doesn’t require much space but often is a life savior. Whether it comes to tow another boat or help an overboard passenger get out of the water, the extra rope has numberless uses and you should have it within your equipment.


It may sound cliché, but you might see nothing but water around, and not be able to have a single drop for yourself. Make sure you have plenty of water for the whole crew. You never know how long you will stay on the boat. Stay hydrated!

A knife

And a sharp one! Knives are extremely useful when it comes to trimming off excess ropes or cutting up baits. Keep in mind that you should keep it in a hidden, safe spot, so the children don’t have access to it, but at the same in a place where you can immediately reach out to it.


You always want to carry at least a few most essential tools to fix small mechanical problems. There are times when only a simple Phillips Head/Flathead screwdriver, duct tape, or WD40 can help you get back to the dock without asking for an emergency.

Take care of your health and comfort

The following accessories and equipment aren’t for emergencies, but they surely can improve your boating experience and, in some cases, prevent you from immediate or long-term harm.

Protection from the sun

Sunscreen, chapstick, and sunglasses. Protection from the sun is crucial both long term (using sunscreen lowers the risk of skin cancer) and during the boat ride. Navigating in the full sun with no sunglasses or hat can be dangerous too.

Comfortable Shoes

This one is on the edge of safety and comfort. Non-slippery shoes that you can easily wear on and off when needed are key! There are special types of shoes, such as leather boat shoes or water shoes, but light sandals should do the job as well.

…And no, flip-flops are not a good idea, trust us on this one.

Rain gear

Waterproof pants, jackets, footwear, and hats. Needless to say, being around water can get you soaked, and you will never fully prevent that. But being prepared for rain is always a good call, especially in small boats, which don’t provide any shelter from it.

Motion Sickness Pills

Even if you personally don’t have seasickness, someone from the crew might have it, and might not be even aware of it. Keep a supply of these onboard and if they ever come in handy, one of the travelers will be forever grateful.

Hand Sanitizer 

After dealing with dirty ropes or accessories that get dirty from the mud, you may want to have your hands disinfected. Especially if you’re on a boat with kids with a supply of sandwiches and snacks.

Insect repellent

Mahatma Gandhi once said: “To lose patience is to lose the battle, that’s why you should never fight mosquitos”. No, he didn’t. But the truth is, bugs can ruin a trip and it’s wise to have any kind of protection against them.

Have some fun!

Going on a ride with family and/or friends? These are the items that will make your adventures even more joyful.

Fishing equipment

Grab your rods, reels and bait and enjoy beautiful fishing straight from the boat. That’s a great way to spend time with your relatives and friends on the water, especially for kids seeking adventure and wilderness. Also, make sure that your boat is ready and fully equipped for comfortable fishing.

Swimming equipment

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Usually, a simple pair of goggles or a snorkeling mask will do the job and squeeze the maximum out of a water experience for kids.

Camera and speakers

Boating provides many beautiful moments to capture. Whether it’s a sunset, a landscape, or sea-life, you may want to be able to catch those on a camera. And as long as a boat experience is supposed to bring you closer to nature, there are times when music can boost the mood of the crew, with no interruption for the wildlife.


Board games and cards are fun and family bonding. Grab yourself your favorite social games and avoid soaking them.

Enjoy your ride

Make sure to get back to this checklist whenever you’re not sure if you’re fully prepared for the trip. And if you’ve got all the necessities for a safe and fun trip, don’t hesitate to check out our ideas for a family boat trip.

And enjoy your amazing boating experience!