The best part of buying a new boat is…well, buying a new boat! First time boat buyers tend to get overwhelmed with the process, what with so many options to choose from and ways to customize their vessels. We’ve found that many develop a bit of tunnel vision about things; you’re so caught up with the fun of designing your powerboat that everything else becomes an afterthought.
Before you can take your new ride out on the water, you should take a moment and make sure you have the right gear. From a comfort standpoint, you’ll be glad you did. But it’s also a matter of safety. Legally speaking, your boat needs to be outfitted with the proper safety equipment suitable for your boat size and activities.
Coast Guard Required Safety Gear
Let’s get the red tape out of the way. As the captain of your new vessel, you’re legally responsible for outfitting your boat with proper safety gear that complies with federal and state regulations, as determined by the United States Coast Guard. Here are the most important of these requirements.
- Life Jackets: Minimum of one wearable life jacket for each passenger on board. The Coast Guard recommends that passengers wear one at all time while out on the water.
- Throwable Floatation Device: All vessels over 16’ must carry at least one throwable float – you might not ever need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
- Fire Extinguishers: These must be hand portable with either a B-I or B-II classification and must have a mounting bracket.
- Visual Distress Signals: Flares and pyrotechnic signals may be required, depending on your boating location. Check the Coast Guard guidelines for details.
- Non-Pyrotechnic Distress Signals: As a complement to your flares, you’ll need orange signal flags or electric distress lights to provide options for signalling at different times of day.
You can find a full list of requirements here in a document that outlines these items as well as other important safety information, including proper stowage of safety gear, regions that require distress signals, and requirements for life jacket use for certain activities (water skiing, anyone?) As such, we’d recommend you give the full document a look before heading out on the water.
Not-Required-But-Might-As-Well-Be Boating Gear
Next, let’s talk about boating tools that aren’t technically required by law but might as well be.
- Anchors: Anchors aweigh! All luxury boats need a good, solid anchor — maybe even more than one, depending on the size of your custom powerboat. Also keep in mind that different anchors perform better in different conditions; some are better for sandy waters, others for mud, and so on. Get familiar with your local area and pick one that suits your needs.
- Dock Lines: You’ll need some way to keep that boat secured to the dock. (Or to other boats out on the water, for that matter.) Dock line are usually sturdy nylon cords that come in varying sizes and styles, perfect for securing your boat in the slip. We’d recommend choosing dock lines in colors that suit the aesthetics of your custom powerboat’s design.
- Chafe Guards: As they sound, chafe guards are soft materials that surround your dock lines and prevent the cords from rubbing away at your powerboat’s exterior. These are must-haves for owners of luxury powerboats who have put time and love into their custom boat design.
General Powerboat Gear and Tools
Next, let’s cover some additional gear that will make your time on the water a little more comfortable.
- Waterproof Flashlights: We’re talking smaller, handheld flashlights, separate from your dedicated distress light. You’ll need it for inspections and maintenance. Ideally, find one resistant to the corrosion that comes with the surf and salt.
- Spare Batteries: For any on-board electrical devices you use regularly.
- Sun Protection Gear: Even if you’re comfy and shaded in your center console, you’ll be exposed to plenty of sun out on the water. (It’s a big deal! First timers may not know that the sun’s UV rays bounce off the water, increasing your risk of sunburn.) Keep yourself and your passengers safe with sunscreen, sunglasses, and protective headwear.
- Boat Shoes: Boat shoes are a fashion statement these days, but they aren’t all about style. On catamarans, center consoles, and other custom powerboats, you’ll be doing plenty of walking on deck. Boat shoes offer great traction on these slippery surfaces.
- Cleaning Supplies: Regular cleaning is an important part of extending the life of your vessel, and serious boaters tend to clean their hulls after every trip. Get some cleaning rags, boat soap, scrub brushes, and maybe some wax to keep your custom powerboat looking fresh.
- First Aid Kit: You might never need it, but there’s nothing worse than having to abandon your day plans to address an unexpected injury while out on the water.
Outfitting Your Custom Powerboat
It might seem like a lot to take in, but enjoy the process! You’re gearing up your boat and making it ready to tackle any challenge the high seas may throw your way. Do your research on local ordinances and your marina’s physical characteristics to get some insight into which boating gear will be most appropriate for your needs. With just a bit of planning, you’ll be confident and ready to hit the water.