The great Adam Sandler said it best in his 2019 hit single, "Phone Wallet Keys," the three things we never leave home without. It's a solid listen; whenever I leave the house, I hum the catchy tune. Despite the song, I still forget my wallet, which is beside the point, but I digress.
The point is, when you board your boat, or any boat, the "Phone Wallet Keys" motto rings true, but with a few more items. So, after years of playing and working on the water, we have compiled a list of the top 5 things we always bring on board and recommend that you do too.
After working for SeaTow, this quickly became the tool of choice over anything else. There's a lot of work you can get done with a basic Leatherman. The pliers are my favorite tool; however, the Phillips head and flat-head screwdrivers are a close second. The Leatherman should not replace a standard tool kit (Link to another article), but it's enough to be dangerous.
It is often overlooked as a critical piece of equipment, but worth turning around for if you leave it in the truck. A sharp and reliable folding knife is something EVERYONE should carry. From cutting away lines to making a sandwich, a good knife is non-negotiable. Keep it sharp; a dull knife is a dangerous one!
PLB (Personal Locator Beacon):
Not everyone has one, but it's worth the investment and could very well be why you are alive if you find yourself overboard. A simple PLB should not replace your EPIRB, but it's a solid backup. If you fall overboard or find yourself in a dire situation, it's the last resort to contact the Coast Guard. Head to this link to learn about those who have been saved by a very affordable PLB.
Not all chart plotters are the same, and it's hard to get comfortable with all the systems out there. We are a fan of Garmin and an even bigger fan of their operating system, Navionics. It's an all-encompassing chart plotter widely known as the best on the market. It's available on all mobile devices and has incredible overlays, such as the relief shading feature. Marine Traffic is a close second app to have in your metaphorical "toolbox"; both are great backups to your boat's onboard navigation system.
Take your ego out of the picture and wear a life jacket. We carry an inflatable on every boat; it's a no-brainer. Especially on open boats, having a life jacket on your person is critical when transiting long passages or walking about on deck. Every summer, we hear about people drowning who could have been saved by wearing life jackets. Let's be reasonable, though; sometimes you might not be wearing your life jacket, and in that case, we suggest you read this article (Link to another article) and consider your situation.
The next time you head out on the water, we hope you consider these top five items. Remember to make your own list and prioritize it based on what you are doing. In addition, here are other noteworthy items that we bring but are more situationally dependent: SAT Phone, Foul weather gear, ear protection, and spare sunglasses.