5 Overlooked Accessories for New Boat Owners
For many boat owners, spring marks the start of a new boating season and includes a laundry list of tasks that will ensure their boat is clean, reliable, and safe before the first trip of the new season. Some of the yearly duties, such as tune-ups and filter changes, will ensure the boat will return its passengers to the dock as expected. Additionally, washing and waxing the hull and other surfaces will help protect the vessel’s value and condition. For more helpful details on preparing your boat, check out “Getting Your Boat Ready for the New Season.”
One often overlooked task that should be on the spring to-do list is to review extra accessories kept onboard. Like any other industry, manufacturers release a steady supply of new technology and improved equipment for boats of all sizes that can enhance the safety and comfort of those onboard. Whether the boat is a 20-foot bowrider or a 150-foot super yacht, new products come out each year that can help make the new boating season fun and safe for the passengers and crew. Since some items can meet specific needs more than others, we’re sharing insight on five overlooked accessories every vessel should include onboard in the list below:
A Good Quality, Floating, Extendable Boat Hook
A good boat hook can save boaters time on the way out of the slip or back at the dock. Lines should always be carefully controlled and secured. If a line falls from a piling into the water, it can cause problems—especially if it wraps around a prop or a shaft. Therefore, it's imperative to have the ability to reach where a line is and can easily be retrieved. With a boat hook that floats, it's possible, easier, and safer.
Handheld VHF and GPS
These are combined into one item because they are equally important for the same reason. No system is infallible, and as the saying goes: “two is one, and one is none.” Few items are more vital than a VHF radio and GPS, while handheld devices provide backup for the vessel’s primary units.
When cell phones became a common personal accessory, many believed a VHF was less important or unnecessary. However, there are no cell towers on the open water, and often there are gaps in coverage along the shoreline. If the antenna rips off or the primary VHF radio fails, using a handheld VHF can ensure the Coast Guard is alerted. Although a handheld GPS has a singular use, it is a good backup for the boat’s primary unit.
Six Extra Dock Lines
When leaving a seasonal slip for a day on the water, it doesn’t make sense to remove all the boat’s dock lines from the pilings or cleats and take them along. That only means they will all have to be tied again at the end of the trip instead of simply passing a loop through and over the cleat. Having to retie them each time also creates more opportunities for human error and increases the potential for damage.
Keep six extra 20-foot dock lines on board that are the same diameter as the primary set. That will allow you to tie off at a fuel dock that doesn’t have lines, tow in a disabled vessel, or secure the boat in an unfamiliar slip to ride out a storm. Additional lines will enable you to tie up practically anywhere, and when the trip is over, tying back up in the vessel’s home slip is a simple process.
Sea Sickness Relief Wristbands
Many people get seasick, but some only feel queasy in certain conditions. People stepping on a boat for the first time may not even know they get seasick until it’s too late. To help keep you and your crew happy, a couple of anti-sea sickness wristbands can prevent people from spending a day on the water curled up in the cabin or in the head. Motion sickness wristbands may not work for everyone, but they are effective. Unlike motion sickness medication, they can shut down queasiness after it sets in.
Boating at night can be a beautiful experience. The stars are rarely easier to see than when you’re out on the open water with no light pollution. But returning to the dock in the dark can be tricky, especially in a narrow channel. Most boats have spotlights with remote controls at the helm, but a handheld spotlight is a good backup and can be a better choice when trying to find things in the dark.
In addition, remote spotlights can be slow to swing and hard to aim at a target, especially when the boat is moving. A handheld spotlight can move back and forth fast to make a buoy flash in the dark or spot multiple targets quickly. There are times when a good-quality handheld spotlight can be a better choice for guiding the vessel back home.
There are many other tools and accessories that are fun, handy, or provide extra convenience. With a few screws and some sealant, adding a custom touch or a simple add-on to any boat is usually an uncomplicated task. However, the best accessories are invaluable when needed most, so it’s always best to be well-prepared.