If you’re new to boating, you may be asking yourself what you should take with you. Let’s go over some recommendations to make sure you’re totally prepared for your day out!
Legally-required items for boating
First, let’s get the legally-required items out of the way. These are the items you absolutely have to have on your boat as required by the TWRA (check with your state’s Wildlife Resource Agency if you’re outside Tennessee). Your boat registration card must be up-to-date and on board with the driver at all times; the same goes for your fishing license if you plan on doing some angling. The law also requires at least one personal flotation device (PFD, such as a life preserver or vest) and a sound signaling device in case of danger. Most boats also require a working fire extinguisher, the only exceptions being outboard boats under 26′ with external fuel tanks and sailboats with no auxiliary power.
Nobody likes to think of an accident occurring while enjoying a day on the lake, but it’s crucial to be prepared in case anything should occur. Always keep a charged cell phone in case you need to call 911; even if you don’t have service with your provider in the middle of the lake, you should still be able to make emergency calls. Bring a watertight floating container you can stash your phone and wallet in so they’ll be safe and above water if the boat capsizes. Keep a first aid kit handy in case of any minor injuries, and a tow line in case your boat breaks down or you happen upon someone else who’s stuck. If you’re new to the lake, a GPS unit will come in handy if you get lost.
Boating items to keep you safe
Next, the obvious it’s bright out there and you definitely need protection from the sun! Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants, or if you plan on wearing shorts and t-shirts bring lots of sunscreen. Use at least SPF 50 to ensure maximum protection from harmful rays. And don’t forget to bring lip balm with sunscreen in it! A day in the sun without it can leave you with painful burned lips. The lake turns into a big mirror on sunny days, so protect your eyes with sunglasses that block UVA/UVB rays. The hot sun can dehydrate you quickly, so be sure to bring lots of water for everyone on board. Mosquitos can be a problem around the lake in most parts of the season, so bring bug spray.
To make your trip a little more convenient, bring along towels, an extra set of clothes, hand sanitizer, and rain gear. These few items can make a world of difference on your trip!
Make your lake day one to remember
Finally, let’s get to the fun stuff! Keep precious memories of your days on the lake with a digital camera. Waterproof models are available so you don’t have to worry about damaging your expensive electronics, or you can buy an inexpensive case for most models of cameras you may already have. If you’re planning on taking a dip in the lake, be sure to bring a swimsuit and a float. If you plan on staying in the boat bring along a radio or Bluetooth speaker, or bring books and magazines for a quiet, relaxing day of reading on the water. Stock your cooler with enough drinks and snacks to make a day of it so nobody gets a rumbling stomach.
If all of this seems like a lot to remember, invest in a boat bag. Any sturdy bag, like a canvas tote or duffel, will do. Then when you’re heading out for a lake day, just grab your boat bag and hit the water!