It may not be typical boating season right now, but winter is the perfect time to take stock and make sure your boat has all the necessary essential items ready for when the season returns.

After all—you want to make sure you can spend as much time as possible on the water during summer. Here are 10 essential items to have on a boat.


Charts or navigation system

essential items to have on a boat

Whether it’s the latest electronic GPS charts or just up-to-date paper records, having at least some form of boat navigation system is essential if you don’t want to get lost—and why would you?

There are multiple electronic charts and navigational apps available on smartphones and tablets, many of which are excellent value for money too, so there really are no excuses!


Life jackets

essential items to have on a boat

You should never go out on your boat without a life jacket. A life jacket will do more to save your life than pretty much any other piece of safety equipment—hence why they’re so essential.

Most life jackets also have crotch straps attached, and investing in an additional sprayhood to protect your face and mouth is also a good idea. Attaching a sprayhood to your life jacket reduces your risk of secondary drowning if you fall overboard. Having one nearby could save your life.


Suitable clothing

essential items to have on a boat

As the old Scandinavian proverb goes: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

It may sound like a fairly obvious piece of advice, but make sure you dress appropriately when out on your boat. Nothing is likely to ruin your day more than being cold and wet, so do what you can to keep warm and comfortable.

Your choice of clothing will, of course, depend on the weather on the day—but it’s always wise to keep a few essentials like coats and fleeces on board your boat at all times, because as we in the UK know all too well—the weather likes to change!


VHF radio

essential items to have on a boat

While you’ll probably still manage to get a signal on your mobile if you’re close to the shore, a VHF radio is one of the most essential items to have on a boat.

Marine VHF radios are used for various purposes, including contacting harbours, marinas, locks, and communicating with other water vessels.

The best type of VHF radio is arguably a fixed set with an aerial at the masthead, but even handheld ones do the job. However, you’ll need to obtain an operator’s licence to use it out on the water, and you’ll also need to get a radio licence for your boat.

Read more about that here.


Nautical Almanac

Even in today’s digital landscape, a traditional Nautical Almanac is still one of the most invaluable items a boater can own.

A Nautical Almanac is a yearbook containing important tidal and astronomical information for navigators and boat owners. The books also contain safety advice and port information for the UK and northern Europe—from the tip of Denmark down to Gibraltar.

New editions are published annually, and for £30 (approx.), you can’t really go wrong.


Fire extinguisher

essential items to have on a boat

Fires on board are the stuff of nightmares, and boats—often with fuel, gas and fibreglass—are ultra-flammable. For this reason, carrying a fire extinguisher on your boat is absolutely essential, as is knowing how to use it properly.


Sun cream

essential items to have on a boat

Even if the weather isn’t particularly sunny, you can still get sunburnt when out on your boat. This is because light reflects on the water and then onto your skin.

Sun cream is an all-year-round essential item to have on a boat. Applying it regularly throughout the day will make your experience more enjoyable, and your skin will thank you for it, too.



essential items to have on a boat

You might think a fully-stocked toolbox seems a bit far-fetched, but you should always keep a screwdriver on your boat, at the very least.

Also, depending on how much space you have—a few spare nuts, bolts, split pins, and engine consumables won’t go a miss too. They could well save your day out on the water.


Waterproof phone case

We’d all be lost without our phones, wouldn’t we? From messaging to navigation and photography, we use them for absolutely everything nowadays—even when we’re out on the water.

But the only way you can guarantee it won’t suffer water damage is to store it in a waterproof case.

A universal case is a must-have when on the water. They can also be used to store other small valuables items that need to be kept dry—such as…


Insurance documents

Last but by no means least, having your boat insurance documents to hand will ensure you know who to contact in an emergency should anything go wrong.

Besides that, some marinas and ports can even request proof of insurance as a condition of entry, so it’s best to be safe and keep documentation on board at all times.


Specialist boat insurance with Insure4Boats

With Insure4Boats, you can build your own tailor-made policy, so you won’t ever have to pay for cover you don’t need. You’ll also receive £3m Third Party Liability cover as standard, regardless of what type of boat you own.

Click here to learn more and get an instant quote online today.



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Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.