If you’re thinking about buying a boat there are a few thing you should take into consideration before going out for a spin. In many parts of the world it is not obligatory to have a boat licence, but local port authorities do recommend new owners learn at least some basic boating skills before heading out. The main point of concern is that new owners are unfamiliar with the items which, by law, must be carried on a vessel. These items differ depending on vessel size and intended voyage, but even the smallest boat should have some basic life saving equipment on board.
Here are a few must-have items if you want to spend some time on the water:
Non-commercial vessels are still required to carry life jacket for the the crew on board. It’s also recommended to carry a few extra, as there is always the chance that your vessel may become involved in a rescue operation. There are several types of life jacket but the most common, and easy to maintain, is the offshore life jacket. These are usually made of foam with a hard-wearing outer skin. They are bulky to wear, but inexpensive and easy to maintain.
On larger vessels a full marine firefighting system is required, but on small, non-commercial boats, only fire extinguishers are mandatory. It is recommended to have several types of extinguisher on board to deal with the various types of fires which could occur: foam, powder, carbon dioxide are the most common. Wet blankets and fire blankets are also recommended.
This varies greatly depending on the size of the vessel, but all boats, no matter what size are required to operate navigation lights between sunset and sunrise. When a craft is under 7 meter the traditional navigation lantern can be replaced with a steaming-light at the stern of the vessel, but some form of lighting must be used.
Communication equipments is also mandatory on all vessels. Mobile phones and hand-held radios are generally frowned upon by port authorities. Most boat owners will have a dedicated UFH CB radio on board. This allows very long range communication and also, because UFH radio waves can penetrate metal bulkheads, it allows communication from any part of a vessel, even in an engine room. There are many suppliers of this type of equipment. In Australia there are some great options, but a GME UHF CB radio is possibly one of the best on the market.
This is certainly not the only equipment recommended for marine vessels. Items like: tools, jump leads, flares, food rations and water, cold weather clothing, extra fuel and oil, are all sensible things to take even short voyages. The most obvious necessities revolve around life saving, vessel integrity, and communication. If an owner considers these thing beforehand he should be able to enjoy the coastal waters of Australia without serious incident.