Top Essentials for Boating

You are the proud owner of a pontoon boat and you’re ready to finally launch it on a lake, after having towed it for 3 hours on the highway. You go start the engine, but oops! it doesn’t work. Now what?

There’s nothing more annoying than this kind of experience: you make all the efforts to organize a great fishing trip or boat party and you realize that your engine has a problem. Or that you forgot your breakfast at home. Or that your phone’s dead. Or that there’s a bolt rolling around on the deck and you have no idea where it’s from. Or a million other minor things that may appear, let alone major issues like a hole in the hull or something like that. In order to fix these things and soon as they appear and not let a minor inconvenience ruin your perfect day, you need to prepare a couple of necessary things beforehand. We spared you the trouble of thinking about it and compiled a list of what you may need, so take a look below and start packing!

Table of Contents

Portable external battery

It’s one of the most common issues, actually, and it doesn’t only appear when you’re on your boat. In fact, according to Murphy’s Law, your electronic paraphernalia will always find the exact right time to run out of battery, and that time will usually be when you’re on a vehicle and/or far away from any power source. Be it your GPS, fish finder, mp4 player, e-reader, smartphone, virtually any electronic device will need a recharge and you have to be ready for it.

If you want something more versatile, albeit also more on the expensive side, we recommend you the PowerAll PBJS12000R. It’s a high-capacity 12,000mAh battery with dual USB charging, it comes with adapters for all major mobile phone brands as well as generic adapters, you can use it to jumpstart a car engine 20 times at full charge, and it even has a LED flashlight for when you’re out at night.

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If you’re only concerned about the well-being of your smartphone, you can forget about the multi-purpose battery and get a smaller one which works for a smartphone, mp4, or e-reader. The Anker PowerCore+ Mini, for instance, is a lipstick-sized 3350mAh battery which can deliver one full charge to most smartphones and can be purchased here:

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Extra propeller + wrench

The propeller is a pretty delicate part of the boat, yet it has to deal with a pretty harsh environment. You never know when it gets tangled in algae or reeds, scrapes the bottom of the water, or gets otherwise damaged. In this kind of situations, it’s always recommended to have an extra propeller on you, as well as the dedicated wrench necessary.

Even if you don’t need to replace the prop, you may still use the wrench to tighten or readjust it, as well as to remove said reeds or grass from the prop. At any rate, these are two accessories which you really can’t go without. The Mercury Spitfire 4-Blade is a great extra propeller you can stack on for your pontoon. The price is not bad for the quality it offers. You can check it out here:


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Basic toolbox

A prop wrench is not the only tool you’ll need when boating. After all, as they say, when all you have is a hammer, every object around looks like a nail. There are tasks you simply can’t perform with a prop wrench and the average pocket knife will be just as useless – for instance, when a bolt or a nut holding the railing in place gets loose, you need to open a tough can, and so on.

As such, we recommend that you have a simple toolbox stored on your boat. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy: a few screwdrivers and wrenches suited to the screws and bolts you have on your boat, a hammer, a Stanley knife, scissors, a small pair of pliers and other similar items. All these put together shouldn’t be more than $60-70, but they could save you hours of anger over a ruined trip and allow for quick fixes that would cost ten times more to do after you get home.

You could also get a multi-tool, such as a Leatherman knife. A bit more on the expensive side, you could take it anywhere with you, not just on your boat, and it’s great for many tasks like the ones listed above.

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Duct tape and WD-40

There’s a saying running among engineers and repairmen all over the country:”If it moves and it shouldn’t, duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, WD-40”. There’s also the second saying: if you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re not using enough of it. These two things are necessary in every household in order to make things work and it’s pretty much the same on a boat. You can also find them pretty much anywhere, so it shouldn’t take more than a trip to the local Walmart or a couple click on Amazon to stack on both.

Duct tape, in particular, is an essential item. As it’s really strong and waterproof, it can be used in a pinch to fix a tear on a life jacket, prevent water from reaching anything wrapped in it, and even secure a crack in your fishing rod. It’s extremely versatile and pretty cheap too, so don’t forget about it.


You have to be ready for an emergency, regardless of what that is. You should always have some sanitary items for both guys and ladies on board, including soap, towels, sanitary pads, cotton, and so on. A nail clipper and file can be useful for more than just clipping and filing nails, as any experienced fisherman knows. Sun lotion and mosquito repellent are essential as well, especially during summer.

Last, but definitely not least, make sure to have a good first-aid kit available. You should have adhesive bandages as well as gauze pads and elastic bandages, antiseptic spray or gel, surgical gloves and mask, scissors or trauma shears, tweezers, and emergency medicine, including aspirin, Epipens, burn gel (especially if you’re planning a barbecue), anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen, and Benadryl or something similar in case of a dangerous allergy.

Have all the fun you want, but always remember safety first!

Emergency snacks and water

It sometimes happens that you get hungry during a fishing trip and it’s important to have something to munch on. Granola or chocolate bars, as well as many kinds of nonperishable snacks that can be stored for a long time on the boat, are excellent choices. Of course, remember that it’s always recommendable to have healthy snacks rather than chocolate and such, due to the aftereffect of eating a lot of processed sugar at once – an energy crash which will leave you half-dead for the rest of the day.

As far as water is concerned, this is not even a recommendation, it’s a MUST. There’s no going around it: you will get more or less dehydrated and you absolutely need to replenish that water. This is obviously important during summer, but it holds true for the colder seasons as well. In fact, it’s easier to get dehydrated in winter, as you won’t notice the loss of water until it’s already pretty bad. You must drink water periodically even if you aren’t really thirsty. Anyway, make sure to keep a couple of water jugs on the boat at all times and replace them from time to time if they are not drunk, as water can get stale when stored in plastic containers.


Early to bed and early to rise may make you healthy and all that, but it will also make you get pretty cold if you’re out fishing at 5 a.m. It’s always a good idea to keep a blanket, a jacket, or something similar on the boat, just in case this happens. The material of the blanket is important, as the morning dew, mist, and so on can get it soggy. Wet cotton is a problem since it will keep you cold. Wool is good, as even wet wool will keep you warm. The same holds true for both natural and artificial fleece. For instance, you can check out the Downunder Outdoors Premium Large Waterproof Picnic & Outdoor Fleece Blanket here:



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Roll of trash bags

You can never be too careful with the environment and throwing your leftovers and food packaging overboard, in the lake or sea, is plain irresponsible. As such, a roll of trash bags can be pretty useful, in particular, if you’re planning to throw a party. Keep nature clean and nature will love you back.

It’s not only about trash either. Whatever you want to keep dry, you can store without problems in a trash bag.


Even if you know the surroundings well and your sense of orientation is top-notch, there’s no way you won’t need a map at one point or another. You don’t have to get embarrassed about it. In particular water, maps are important, as you can’t really see much below the water.

Of course, when we say “maps”, we don’t just mean the paper kind. You can have a GPS, smartphone, fish finder, or whatever else allows you to know the location of paths and obstacles invisible to the naked eye. Here’s one fish finder we particularly like – the Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker:



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It’s a common occurrence to not finish fishing before it gets dark. Not to talk about parties, which can extend until late in the night. However, after all is done, you still have to dock your boat, which cannot be done safely if you can’t see the docks.

A mounted flashlight will do its job splendidly, but a handheld one can work as well. At any rate, it has to correspond to certain standards of safety (i.e. be weatherproof) and be strong enough for you to see and be seen from a good distance. If you want a recommendation, we suggest the Streamlight 44902 Waypoint Spotlight. It has an adjustable output between 20-210 lumens and a shock-resistant light bulb and it can be powered by either 4 alkaline batteries or the 12V DC power adapter on your boat.


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These are the top items we think are really necessary on a boat. Feel free to personalize the list, as you know best your boat, yourself, the weather in your area and what kind of activities you’re involved in. The most important thing is to be always safe. Otherwise, a pleasant trip may very well turn into a disaster, and it’s really not worth to cut costs.

Jerry Brookes

Hi I'm Jerry, founder of I've been pontooning for over 30 years believe it or not and have learned a thing or two about pontoons. As my passion project Pontoon Helper is aimed at educating any reader on all the different things you need to know before pontooning. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in this industry as it has become my life since retirement. Feel free to submit a comment or question on the website and I'll try to get back to you.

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