Never confuse my list of essentials with the minimum requirements for a recreational boater to have by law. But rather these are a few things I find routinely beneficial to boating around Cape Coral and in Southwest Florida.
Type V Inflatable PFD
When boating alone, I always wear my Type V inflatable PFD. I like the style that has both manual and auto inflating capability. There are lots of situations where this can be needed. For example, being thrown overboard, slipping while docking, etc. They also have D-rings which allow for the MOB device to be clipped directly to your vest. The vests are slim, lightweight, and not too hot like a traditional PFD. This is a must while solo for me. I also find many clients that are learning the area or have a mobility issue that is using them full time. This is never a bad idea.
Personal Locating Beacon
I also prefer to have a PLB. This is a Personal Locating Beacon, an electronic device that is small enough to be worn on yourself (mine is inside my type V PFD), and can send a signal for help via satellite. Many guests don't know how to properly use a VHF but everyone understands when I explain "pull this out of my vest, point the antenna to the sky, and press the red button to send help to this location." There are many dead spots for cell service and this is a must for my family, guests, and I should something ever happen. A great feature I like about the PLB is we can take it on a kayak, hiking, etc. This is a great way to have that next layer of safety.
Water. I can't stress this enough. Do not ever leave the dock with "just enough" for your trip. It's hot in Southwest Florida. With all of the new synthetic clothes, you don't realize how much you are sweating. Many times I remind guests to "grab several more" and by the end of the trip, they are glad they did. Also, I say water loosely. Drinking water is important but be sure to fill your freshwater tank on the boat before leaving. Freshwater washdown when coming in from the beach is a huge feature and a creature comfort. Climb the ladder and rinse off before drying with your towel to prevent itchy skin during your boatride home. I rinse my glasses frequently throughout the day before wiping them off. If not, the salt scratches the lenses.
A VHF radio is not required for recreational boating but is a very useful tool. Not just from a safety standpoint, but it is super helpful when approaching restaurants such as Cabbage Key. You can't call the dockmaster on your phone for a slip assignment, instead, you need to use the VHF. From there, they will walk you right into your slip for lunch. This comes in handy when needing to chat with other boats and also hear of any weather alerts.
Skin & Head Protection
"Hat and Glasses" is a line that my kids are probably sick of hearing but I will say it again, it's hot in Southwest Florida. Hats and sunglasses make a world of a difference when you are out on the water. These items will help extend your day!
There are many other little creature comforts but these are just a few that I find helpful to have with me! For more information on building boating confidence in Southwest Florida, contact us today (217) 962-1048.