The weather is getting warmer and we’re all gearing up to take full advantage of the summer months. A great way to beat the heat while still having fun in the sun is to get your boat out on the water as much as possible. To make the most of your boating adventures, here are the top 20 must-have boat accessories to take your boat days from bland to bold.
Boating is a great activity to enjoy with family, friends, or even by yourself. The best way to ensure you have the most fun is to be prepared in case of any emergency. Make boat safety your top priority and have the confidence that you’re ready to face any event that meets you on the water.
1. A First-Aid Kit
No boat should ever be without a basic first-aid kit. Accidents can happen at any time, so you want to be prepared with necessities to address any issue.
A few items that should be in your kit include:
- A variety of bandages
- Cold packs
- Pain relievers
- And more
Typically, if you would keep something in your home first-aid kit, add it to your boat’s first-aid kit. To tailor your kit more specifically to marine life, also consider:
- Seasick or motion sickness pills
- Burn care items
- Emergency space blanket
You can usually find ready-made kits at a marine supply store and add other items you might want or need. Store your first-aid kit in a watertight container to ensure all of your items stay dry, and remember: a safe trip is a happy trip.
2. Life Jackets or Personal Flotation Devices
Many people have their own on-boat rules requiring everyone in the family to wear a life jacket at all times. This is a great rule and an awesome way to ensure that everyone onboard is staying safe. However, you should always have extra life jackets on hand so that every guest on your boat has one available.
Personal flotation devices, often called life savers, are ideal in overboard emergencies or accidents. Have one on your boat at all times in an easily accessible location.
3. Fire Extinguisher
Even though your boat is on the water, a fire extinguisher is a must-have on any marine vessel. Engines and motors contain oil and gasoline, which can trigger boat fires that cannot be extinguished with water. With a fire extinguisher on board, you get peace of mind that if a fire breaks out, you’re prepared to handle it.
Federal regulations require that all boats, regardless of size, have at least one fire extinguisher on board. The standard is to have a marine-type, hand-portable extinguisher in B group — extinguishers for flammable liquids and gasses. Look for a B-I or B-II extinguisher to meet these requirements.
4. Signal Flares
Your boat should always be equipped with distress signals and signal flares are perfect for filling that role. According to Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations, smaller, personal boats are required to carry signaling equipment only at night; however, it’s a good idea to have them on board at all times. There are a few devices you can use to meet federal requirements:
- Three hand-held red flares (day and night)
- One electric distress light (night only)
- One hand-held red flare and two parachute flares (day and night)
- One hand-held orange smoke signal and two floating orange smoke signals (day) and one electric distress light (night only)
All signal flares should be under 42 months of age to ensure they are in compliance as well as new enough to be effective in the event of a distress emergency.
The Good Stuff
Now that your boat is in top safety condition, it’s time to think about all the excitement you’ll have out on the water. Turn your boat into a playtime oasis with these fun accessories.
5. Fun Floats
One of the main reasons to have a boat is to take full advantage of the water around you. When the boat isn’t cutting through the waves and the anchor is down, it’s time to pull out the floats!
Relax on an avocado.
Float over a rainbow.
Laze on a unicorn.
The options are unique and endless so find a float that matches your style and let the water rock you into relaxation.
6. Tow Tubes
Unlike floats, your tow tubes are made for action! With the tow cable securely fastened to the boat and the tube, you’re in for hours of endless excitement as you bound through the wake of the boat.
Make sure that the tube you have is suitable for towing and get tow cables that are between 50 and 65 feet in length as recommended by the Water Sports Industry Association.
7. Diving Boards
Your boat may not have an ideal spot for jumping off but a boat diving board solves that problem quickly. The Lillipad Diving Board is a popular option and compatible with most boats. With an under-floor mount that ensures secure installation, you and your guests can enjoy countless jumps into the refreshing water.
8. Mounted Grill
Have you spent the day fishing and want to enjoy the spoils of your work? Perhaps some steaks or burgers are more your style for a boating afternoon? Either way, a mounted grill is the perfect boat accessory for you.
Boat grills come in three different options:
Find one that suits your cooking preferences and you’ll be able to have a delicious meal right on your boat.
Do keep in mind that there are some safety tips for grills on a boat, including:
- Not grilling while the boat is in motion
- Never leaving the grill unattended
- Following all marina rules about grills if you have already docked
Music brightens any moment and can make a calm boat ride feel like a party. Invest in some waterproof Bluetooth speakers for your boat and groove to some tunes while you enjoy the beautiful water.
Find the best speakers for your boat here.
10. Snorkeling Goods
The beauty of the water isn’t contained to the surface. Lakes and oceans truly come alive when you look underneath and discover the life there. Snorkeling is the perfect adventure to let you explore under the water so get the right gear to make it enjoyable.
- Mask — one that covers your eyes and nose for the best experience
- Snorkel — get one with a purge valve to keep it from filling with water
- Fins — optional but can make swimming and steering easier
Depending on your experience or situation, these additional items can turn snorkeling into an activity the whole family can enjoy.
There’s plenty of gear that takes your boat from just another marine craft to a complete vessel of precision and efficiency. Take a look at some accessories that make your boat that much better.
11. VHF Radio
A VHF radio is a two-way communication device that allows boaters to radio for help in times of distress. These radios are used for boat-to-boat or boat-to-Coast Guard communication and there are specific channels you should use for each situation.
Equip your boat with a VHF radio and learn more about how to use it here.
12. GPS System
A GPS helps you know where you are, where you’re going, and comes in handy in emergencies when you need to relay your exact location. GPS also allows you to see where other boats are on the radar and lets them see you as well.
13. Boat Bumpers
A breach in your boat’s hull can cause costly and dangerous damage but boat bumpers help guard against this issue. When you are docking your boat, coming closer to another vessel, or nearing some other object, having a bumper in place keeps your boat protected from a collision.
Choose one kind or a combination of each bumper type:
- Cylindrical double-eye
- Cylindrical center hole
- Hybrid cylindrical-round
- Specialty: transom
A boat is a large investment so make sure you’re protecting it with quality boat bumpers.
You’ve discovered must-have items for safety, fun, and your boat — but what about the people on your boat? These are a few accessories that make your afternoon adventure a bit more comfortable.
14. Dry Box/Bag
In a vessel surrounded by water, it’s important to have a waterproof space to keep certain belongings safe. Test out a dry box or bag before taking it out on the boat to ensure it is big enough to hold personal items and actually holds up to the waterproof claim.
There are many items that are commonly stored in a dry box or bag, such as:
Feel confident that your personal items are safe on board by storing them in a dry box or bag.
15. Boat Shoes
A day on the water calls for flip flops or even no shoes at all. However, boat floors can get slippery from splashes or spills and quickly become dangerous. A strong, solid shoe helps keep you stable as you walk around the boat and the dock.
Look for shoes that:
- Are water-resistant, not waterproof
- Have a built-in way to drain
- Have a sturdy tread pattern
When searching for the perfect boat shoes, aim for something casual and functional yet still stylish if you leave the boat for an outing.
16. Solar-Powered Chargers
A beautiful day on the boat isn’t just for getting a good tan. Harness the power of the sun to help power up your electronic devices with solar chargers. These chargers have a solar panel that collects energy from the sun and stores it in a reserve bank to charge your devices.
- VHF radio
- Fish finders
Discover which type of solar-powered charger is right for your boating needs.
Keep yourself hydrated by having lots of clean water on board. Invest in a cooler or two to keep water and other drinks cold as well as some food and snacks to help keep your energy up. After all, you don’t want your day marred by dehydration, hunger, or an energy crash.
Many people invest in a boat to spend hours fishing in peace. If this is your ultimate goal — or you just want to enjoy some occasional fishing — these must-have accessories will get your fishing trip started on the right foot.
18. Fish Finder
A fish finder uses sonar technology to scan down through the water and bounce off objects before sending the signal back up again. You’ll be able to identify large clusters of objects, though they’re not always guaranteed to be fish.
Discover more about fish finders and how to use them here.
19. Rod Holders
Whether you have multiple rods in the water or just need to be doing something else while you’re fishing, rod holders are your saving grace. These holders keep fishing rods securely and safely out of the way so you can attend to other tasks on the boat.
If your new or used boat doesn’t already come with rod holders attached, have no fear. They are easy to install and can be done in no time at all. Make fishing that much more enjoyable and easy with rod holders on your boat.
20. Fish Coolers
If you haven’t purchased a mounted boat grill for onboard cooking yet, you’re going to need a place to keep all your fish until you get home. While you may have a cooler for your drinks and food, you wouldn’t want to put freshly caught fish in there with everything else — and that’s where a fish cooler comes in.
This cooler may not look any different from your food cooler — in fact, they may be the exact same brand, size, and shape. However, if you label one for fish and prepare it properly, you’ll always have a place to keep whatever you catch.
Make Your Boat the Best
With these 20 must-have boat accessories, your boat will be THE place to be this summer. Maintain safety, play in style, protect your gear, or just fish in peace and quiet with these items. After your boat is fully accessorized, turn to Germaine Marine in Arizona, California, and Utah for all of your boating care needs. Stop by the dealership nearest you today!