Even if you have the smallest boat for a bit of inshore fishing with the kids on the occasional weekend, there are some pieces of equipment you just must have on your boat. Not all of these items are a legal requirement, but finding out what is for your state is another absolute must. With these items on your boat you may save yourself a lot of anguish, a lot of fishing time and maybe even a life.


Personal floatation devices are a legal requirement no matter where you are. Modern lifejackets are extremely comfortable, low-cost and extremely easy to maintain (if necessary). Make sure you know the type of lifejacket you need for where you are going out on the water.


A signalling device may be a legal requirement depending on your region and the size of your boat. That being said, you should always have a sound-producing device that makes enough sound to be heard at considerable distance. Air or electric horns are no use if they don’t work so you should always have a safety whistle as a backup. Another way to support your sound-producing device is to have a visual distress signal. In reality, every boat should have one. Flares and signal rockets are relatively inexpensive.


You may think this item is not that important if you are on a small boat. A fire extinguisher can be used off your boat for when you are camping, for example. It always pays to have a fire extinguisher with you when boating whether it is a legal requirement or not.


Bigger modern boats come with the all the frills but smaller and older boats often don’t even come with an emergency beacon. Your small tinnie for fishing with the kids certainly doesn’t. If you are ever in the position where you need one, you will thank yourself for getting one. Check your local laws and find out the legal requirements and make sure you have one anyway.


Very small boat owners often think they don’t need much rope. You never know when you will need it. You should always have enough rope to tie up your boat anywhere. Quality marine VB cord and rope are very inexpensive today. You should have at least 25 feet available.


You are crazy to hit the water without some form of communication device. Know how far your mobile phone will still be in range because if you only fish locally and close to the shore, you probably can still use it. Small two-way radios are also very cheap these days.


You should always have a first aid kit on your boat and you should always have one when you are fishing. It is amazing how few people carry a first aid kit when fishing or boating on a small boat. Just because a boat is small, doesn’t justify not having a first aid kit. Knowing how to use a first aid kit and knowing how to remove fish hooks embedded in the flesh is a very good idea too. A first aid kit isn’t very useful if you don’t know how to use it.


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Martin White

Martin is huge on everything outdoors and is even bigger on driving and technology. He loves boats, new stuff and writing about it.