Cruising & Sailing Information

Small Boats Should Have Certain Equipment On Board For Proper Safety Precautions

Relaxing in your canoe on a beautiful calm lake, fishing for the perfect fish is a very enjoyable and peaceful pastime that is enjoyed by many. Or maybe taking your kayak down a white water river braving class four rapids is more your style? Inflatable boats or Zodiacs are a lot of fun cruising in the ocean, slamming through the surf as well!

No matter what your personal preference is, enjoying small boats on the water is a lot of fun and can be exciting and relaxing all in one trip, depending on what you prefer. But no matter what type of boating you enjoy, you should be aware of some fundamental boating safety rules before you head out.

Pay Attention To The Weather

No matter if you are going for a paddle along the shore line of a local lake or a wild cruise through the ocean surf you should pay close attention to the weather report of the area that you are going.

Out on the water, the weather can change very quickly causing a whole host of problems to small boaters. It is very important to look at the short term weather report if you are going on a day trip to see if the weather forecast is calling for rain or any other major disturbances.

Rain storms can be a lot worse on the water than they are on land. A small rain storm can quickly turn into a very frightening experience if you are in a small boat such as a canoe, kayak or rowboat. Very small boats do not have as much stability and can be capsized or flipped much easier than larger boats. Also, there is nowhere to escape from the rain on a small water craft which means that you will become wet and cold much faster.

It is also a good idea to look to the sky as well as the weather report. Of course it is important to look to the weather report for the official weather; however the weather can turn around very quickly around water so it is a good idea to look to the sky. If you see some black clouds forming quickly and filling the sky, you may want to avoid the water that day or keep a very close eye on the sky.

Don't Forget?

It is always a very good idea when you are a planning an excursion on the water to tell someone where you are going and when you plan on coming back. If you plan on going out onto the ocean you should file a float plan with the marina. This is extremely important incase a sudden ocean storm comes up and you find yourself in trouble in your small boat.

Also, if you are going out on the ocean you should carry a VHF marine band radio with you. A VHF radio is the easiest and fastest way to make contact with someone who can help you if you find yourself in trouble.

What Should You Have On Board?

No matter what type of small boat you have, there are a few things that you should carry on board with you at all times:

* Life Jacket or PFD
* Flashlight
* Oars
* Bucket
* First Aid Kit
* Rope
* Blanket
* Mirror or shiny object
* Garbage bags
* Life Jacket

The reasons to have a life jacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device) on board are fairly self explanatory; however, many people die from drowning every year because they were not wearing their life jacket. If you are in a small water craft such as a canoe or kayak you should be wearing your life jacket or PFD at all times. Due to the nature of these small boats, they can flip easily and suddenly creating an emergency situation quickly.

There are few different types of PFDs that you can choose from depending on the situation that you have. The Type I PFD is also known as the offshore floatation device. A type I is useful if you are going into rougher waters where you may not be rescued very quickly. Type II PFDs are also known as a near shore buoyant vest, this type of PFD is more useful if you are in calmer water where rescue will be quicker. Type III PFDs are floatation aids that should only be used in very calm and protected water where you will be rescued quickly.


You should be sure that you have a whistle on board that will work when it gets wet, and one that is made of a color that you will be able to see in the dark. Whistles are very important no matter where you go boating, because a whistle call will attract help if you are stranded. However, a whistle is known as a distress signal so it should only be used in an emergency.


A waterproof flashlight is essential for your boats safety kit. If you get stranded on the water after dark, you can use the flashlight to signal for help using international SOS signals. You can also use the light to look for other boats or objects to avoid hitting them.


You should always have oars on board even if you have a motor. If your motor breaks down, or you run out of gas you will have a way to paddle into shore. Be sure that your oars are secured to your boat so that you will not lose them in a storm.


A bucket or pail is very important to have on board in case you begin taking on some water, you can use the pail to bail yourself out. You can also use the bucket to tap out SOS signals.

First Aid Kit

This is an essential piece of equipment for small boats. It is also important to know how to use the first aid kit as well.


In case you get wet or your clothes become soaked a blanket will help you prevent hypothermia.


Ropes are very useful for a variety of reasons and should be kept on every boat. They can be used to tie the boat to shore, to another boat for towing or even to rescue someone from the water. It is also important to know some useful knots.

Mirror Or Shiny Object

This can be used to attract attention during the day time by reflecting the sun. If you are stranded on the water, you will need to attract help and a flashlight will not be very useful during the day light hours.

Plastic bags

Bags are useful to create make shift rain ponchos during bad weather, also you can keep equipment dry and secure. If you have to, you can use orange garbage bags to attract attention as well.

The Last Word

These are just a few accessories that you should keep on board of your small boat in case of an emergency. It is also a very good idea to take a course about small boat safety and know the laws in your area before setting out onto the water.


About the Author
Kevin Brown is successful author and publisher of many informative websites including His websites offer tips and advice on a wide array of topics including small boats, inflatable boats, boat accessories, and more.


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