Things You Need on Board a Pontoon Boat

Before every trip out on the water, you should check (and double-check) to make sure you have the absolute necessities on board. These are the things you need on a pontoon boat that are not only required by law, but are also common sense and generally related to safety.

Additionally, there are plenty of nice-to-haves you will want on every trip.

When we say every trip, we mean every trip—especially when it comes to the needs. Whether you’re planning to spend 15 minutes or 10 hours on the lake, you absolutely must make sure you take all proper safety precautions.

For a quick guide on pontoon-boat safety, take a look at our Pontoon Boat Safety Checklist.

Pontoon Boat Necessities

Items you need to have on your pontoon boat are often things you hope never to need to use, but can keep you safe in case of an emergency. Some of these things, such as life jackets and flares, are required by law, and you definitely don’t want to (1) be caught without them when you need them or (2) face the fines and penalties if you’re caught without them by the Coast Guard.

The necessities:

  • Boat registration and proof of insurance.
  • Food and water. Pack more than enough non-perishable snacks and water for the trip.
  • Life jackets for every passenger. Age-appropriate personal flotation devices (PFDs) need to be in good condition and readily available.
  • Charged cell phone, in case you need to contact help.
  • Signal devices such as flares and distress flags.
  • Portable battery charger and flashlight.
  • First-aid kit in a waterproof case stocked with gauze, antiseptic cream, bandages, scissors, latex or vinyl gloves, cotton balls, pain relievers, and tweezers. Anti-nausea tablets are a good idea, too.

 

Things That Are Nice to Have on Board

There are plenty of items that are not necessarily essentials, but definitely nice to have on your boat, whether for safety or convenience or to be kind to the environment. These include:

  • Trash bag to prevent littering the water.
  • Extra rope.
  • Paddles, in case of engine failure.
  • Change of clothes in a waterproof bag.
  • Extra jackets or warm shirts.
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF protection.
  • Pocket knife or tool kit.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Marine radio.

 

What Else?

Primarily, check your local laws and make sure you have everything you need. This not only ensures you’re not at risk for fines or penalties, but because the laws only require things that are absolutely essential in an emergency, you’ll also have peace of mind knowing you have what you need.

After you make sure you’re compliant, add whatever you can to make your day on the water more enjoyable. Obviously, this includes fishing poles if you’re fishing, tubes if you’re tubing, food if you’re picnicking, etc.

Because pontoon boats are so versatile, you can do just about anything you want on the water. For the best experience, make sure you and your passengers have everything you need under any circumstances.