Boating can be one of the most fun and peaceful experiences you have. Whether it be sailing or power boating, being prepared on the water is crucially important. With over 20 years of competitive racing and boating experience, I have found these 6 items to be of the utmost importance whenever you leave shore. 1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD) Every boat should have enough life jackets on board for the number of people going out. Life jackets are essential to survival in the water and can make the difference between life and death. Having a life jacket already on is best way to reduce your risk of water related accidents. The next best thing is to have them located in an easily accessible place. Don’t pile your cooler, towels, anchor, lines and other things on them as it will dramatically affect the amount of time it takes you to get them out and put on. Some of our favorite life jacket companies are: http://www.extrasport.com/ http://www.astraldesigns.com/ 2. Anchor Having an anchor on board with you is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have. An anchor allows you the ability to keep your boat in one place should anything go wrong. It also allows you the opportunity to stop your boat and swim or just relax if no beach or dock space is available. Check out this link to various kinds of anchors that might be good for you http://www.boatus.org/guide/navigation_31.html! 3. VHF Radio VHF radios are something every boater should invest in. They allow you the ability to communicate with other boats, commercial vessels, U.S. Coast Guard, marine patrol, marinas, and yacht clubs among others. You can also get weather forecasts as well as tide and current information on various waterways. A decent handheld VHF radio will run anywhere between $100-$200 and come with many different features. You never know when one of these will come in handy and it’s nice to know you have one waiting! 4. Multi-tool You never know when you are going to need to tighten this bolt or cut that wire so a multi-tool can come in very handy. Instead of carry a full set of tools on your boat, carry a multi-tool that can handle many jobs. Many multi-tools have a screwdriver, knife, scissors, plyers, wire cutter, wire stripper, can opener, bottle opener, file, and more! Our favorite multi-tools come from: http://www.leatherman.com/ http://www.gerbergear.com/ 5. Extra Line We recommend having additional line on your boat in case of an emergency. With extra line you can tow disabled boats, tie yourself up to something if in distress, attach spring lines when docked to reduce forward and aft motion, or replace line if it finally gives out while under way. It’s also great to keeps kid occupied! Teach them new knots and let them practice to keep them entertained! 6. Appropriate Apparel When out on the water, it is important to be prepared for the many different weather conditions that could arise. From hot and humid to cool and rainy, you don’t want to be stranded miles off shore with nothing to protect you. I always like to where a wicking layer against my skin to remove moisture from the surface of the body. Merino wools work great to wick moisture, especially in the summer with the lightweight options available. Waterproof shell jackets are also essential as they will protect you from wind, rain, and the elements. For colder trips, I typically layer my merino wools with lightweight and mid-weight options. For wools I use www.minus33.com and for shell jackets I use www.HellyHanson.com. Although basic, these boater safety tips can come in handy in an emergency situation. Be safe and have fun on the water!