Know Your Essential Boating Equipment

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Navigation Aids

In all but the smallest of boats you will need a chart. If you go more than a mile or two from shore you will need a compass, a GPS and a depth sounder are worth considering. Exactly what you carry will depend on the size and type of boat and how far from land you go. Talk to Coastguard or the Maritime Safety Authority for advice.

Communication Equipment

These include VHF radio, flares, emergency locator beacon or a cellphone. On any trip you need to carry at least two means of communication. If you are going more than two miles from shore you need to carry three means of communication. Every year many people drown after a boating mishap because they were not able to tell anyone of their plight. Ensure that you have at least one means of communication that will be available and work after submersion in case of capsize or swamping.

Bailing System

Even if you carry an electric bilge pump, always carry a bucket or bailer. It can be used to put out fires and has many other uses.


To determine the right size for your boat, the anchor should weigh not less than 1.5 kg per metre of boat length, with chain at least equal to the length of the boat and a non-floating rope well secured to the boat.

First Aid Kit

Should contain enough supplies to cover minor accidents or injury. Remember to carry a remedy for sea sickness as well as sun block.

Alternative Power

Spare outboard, oars or paddles to help you manoeurve the boat in the event of a power failure or if the wind dies away while sailing.

Fire Extinguishers

If you have an engine or cooker on board always carry at least one fire extinguisher that is suitable for your type of boating. Know how to use it and ensure it is serviced regularly.

Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

You must always carry one of the correct size for each person on board. Wearing it is mandatory at all times of increased risk.

Boat Hook

As well as being used to pick up lines, buoys and objects in the water, your boat hook can be used for checking the depth of water, pushing off or help in recovering a person overboard.


Always carry an extra length (or two) of rope, you never know when you might need to use it.

Throwing Line

A floating line at least 12 metres in length with a floating weight at one end.


Always carry a torch with spare batteries and bulb.

Protective Clothing

Carry adequate warm, protective clothing.

Courtesy of Water Safety New Zealand Incorporated