Boat Guide

100 Boat Accessories for Boat Living

boat accessories

If you’re new to the boating life, you may be wondering:

“What boat accessories do I need to prepare?”

Well, there are a number of things you need to have on board if you want to have a smooth sailing experience. Luckily, we’re here to help you. In this article, we’ll present 100 must-have boat accessories so you aren’t totally clueless. Treat this as a checklist. 

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Make the most of your boating experience with the right boat accessories

No matter the length of time you plan to spend on water, be it a day, a weekend, or longer, it’s important to have a checklist of accessories for boat living. These include safety gear, general equipment, spare parts, power sources, entertainment aids, storage or organizational tools, as well as food and drinks.   

These boat accessories will keep you safe in a marine environment

Safety gear is the number one boat accessory you should remember to bring. This is especially important for those of you who have Thalassophobia or a fear of the sea, yet still insist on trying the boating life.

Whether you have a fear of open water or not, we reckon you’ll appreciate having the following safety gear on board:  

1.    Life Jacket

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Perhaps one of the most recognizable marine safety gear, the life jacket is an essential boat accessory. This floatation device should be worn at all times, in case of any accidents.  For instance, one that would have people exclaiming:

“Man overboard!”

2.    Life buoy

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Another important marine safety gear is the life buoy, a.k.a. a lifesaver or life preserver. This item can be tossed to a man overboard to help them float and prevent drowning.

3.    Throw cushion

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Similarly, a throw cushion may also function as a floatation device once thrown on the water. The difference is it also serves as comfortable seating material outside of emergency situations.

4.    First Aid Kit

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Now, the need for a first aid kit is self-explanatory. It’s your first line of defense whenever an injury occurs, especially if you’re in a remote location like the middle of the sea.

5.    Aerial Boat Flares

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Boat flares are used for distress signals. In the case of an emergency, boat flares will help other people know your location. Just make sure you read the instructions to avoid further injury.

6.    Air Horn

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In general, marine air horns are used for signaling. Boat air horn sounds can be used to greet other boats, indicate your presence especially in foggy locations, or more urgently, to alert others of dangers such as rocky coastlines.

7.    Whistle

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Likewise, a safety whistle is also used for signals. Coastguard-approved whistles can be heard through long distances – at least half a nautical mile. This makes it easier to locate and rescue you during any untoward incident.

8.    Flare Gun

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Marine flare guns can be used to alert others of dire situations. Moreover, they can be used to signal for help or inform others of your position so as to avoid collision with other vessels.

9.    Orange Smoke

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All boats are required to have some form of visual distress signal on board. Orange smoke signals are great for day-time emergencies. They can easily communicate your position. At the same time, they can also indicate the direction of the wind for your would-be rescuers.

10. Distress Light

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Every boater should have an electric distress light for boats. Another form of a marine distress signal, SOS distress lights can come in handy for stranded sailors.

11. Marine VHF Radio

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Arguably the most important marine safety gear is the Marine VHF (very high frequency) radio, your primary mode of reliable communication while out in the water. When you’re in a pinch, it’ll deliver a message to nearby boats, or marinas listening. More importantly, it has an international calling and distress frequency.

12. VHF Marine Radio Antenna

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Equally important is a VHF antenna, which is crucial to your marine radio. A high-quality marine VHF antenna is needed to boost your range and direct its signal to the correct direction. Additionally, this boat accessory will be equipped to handle the seasons.

13. Satellite Phone

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Another form of communication for seafarers is a satellite phone. Maritime satellite phones’ reception aren’t dependent on land-based infrastructure. For this reason, they are suitable for areas without reliable cellular coverage such as the ocean.

14. Emergency Blanket

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An emergency blanket or marine survival blanket should also be part of your nautical emergency kit. In delicate situations, this versatile boat accessory can be the difference between life or death. Waterproof and wind-proof, it can be used as temporary shelter or as protection for your gear.

15. Personal Locator Beacon

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Another important marine safety equipment is a buoyant personal locator beacon (PLB). When you’re in trouble, marine personal locator beacons will send a signal to dedicated international frequencies. These will then be communicated to the nearest search and rescue response teams.

16. Ditch Bag

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When you need to abandon ship, it would be handy to have a boat survival bag ready. These are called overboard or emergency ditch bags. Ditch bag contents include but are not limited to VHF radio, PLBs, whistles, duct tape, flares, and other boating emergency supplies.

17. Waterproof Flashlight

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Obviously, since you will be surrounded by water, you should invest in waterproof flashlights for boating. Moreover, they should be rechargeable and shock-proof. Marine-grade flashlights are quite durable. Some even float when dropped on the water.

18. Fire Extinguisher

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Have a contingency in place for boat fires. Marine-rated fire extinguishers are a requirement for most boats. Know the coast guard fire extinguisher requirement of your boat and determine where it should be stored on a boat for easy access.

19. Dive Flags

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When you have divers in the water, dive safety accessories such as dive flags, a.k.a. diver down flags or scuba flags should be set up around the area for safety purposes. They are especially important when there is boat traffic near the dive site. 

20. Search Light

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Marine search lights are a necessity to see through the dark of the night. Moreover, they help you get light up the shore, so you’ll avoid potential collisions. As coastguard-approved boating equipment, there are several commercial marine search lights – most of which are LED searchlights.

21. Float Plans

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Next, a basic float plan is an important boat accessory – albeit one you won’t be bringing aboard with you. In general, a simple float plan is a document that details your route, departure and arrival, as well as a reason for heading out to sea. In emergency cases, such as if you do not return on schedule, a float plan can be used as basis to contact the Coast Guard.

22. Raincoat/Jacket

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Weather can be unpredictable when you set sail. For this reason, a good sailing jacket that is both lightweight and durable is a must. As much as possible, it should be waterproof and comfortable. This foul weather gear should be able to protect you from the rain.

23. Sunscreen and Bug Repellent

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Protect yourself from mosquitoes and the sun by applying sunscreen and bug repellent. You can invest in a bug repellent sunscreen or sunblock with insect repellent. Either product will give you an extra layer of protection from the elements of the boating life.

Bring these 31 gears and equipment with you

The second group of boat accessories you should take note of are general equipment and gear. You may ask:

“Why do I need more gear and equipment for my boat?”

Well, not all boats come equipped with these necessary items. In general, these will help you with the overall maintenance and operation of your vessel. Check them out:

24. Dock Line

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The first boat accessory we’ll mention under gears and equipment is a dock line. Make sure you know how to tie dock lines as they secure your vessel to a dock or another boat, preventing it from drifting aimlessly into the water. To secure your boat temporarily, semi-permanently, or permanently, dock lines have different types:

Mega braid, double braid, or three-strand.

25. Anchor

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Next, you need to choose the right anchor for your ship. Boat anchors keep your vessel rooted to its spot despite wind or current conditions. Make sure to check out boat anchor size charts to help you determine your boat’s need.

26. Fenders

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Fenders are essential to boating as they are used to absorb some impact. Think of boat fenders as bumpers or cushions that protect against damage from impact against docks and other vessels An important question you should ask yourself is:

“What size boat fenders do I need?”

27. Boat Hook

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Also important is a heavy duty boat hook, which is an essential boat accessory for docking and undocking. In addition, they may also be used to pull objects out of water, from debris to people.  

28. Boarding Ladder

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A boarding ladder for boats will make getting in and out of the water a breeze. Nowadays, there are several models which are portable, foldable, or removable.

29. Basic Tool Kit

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Another boat accessory you need to have onboard your marine vehicle is a basic tool kit. Make it a habit not to leave the dock without a mariner’s tool set because you never know what will happen on the water. It’s better to be prepared with all the essential or must-haves of a waterproof boat tool kit.

30. Towels

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If you’re going boating, expect to get wet. Instead of bulky beach towels, you can opt for fast-drying towels made out of microfiber material. Moreover, these marine towels will not take up too much space as well as become stinky in a short amount of time.

31. Trash Bags

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Trash bags are also important boat accessories as they can have multiple purposes. Aside from lining boat trash can, marine trash bags may also be used as temporary waterproof storage.

32. Binoculars

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One of the boat accessories often overlooked is a pair of marine binoculars. If you set sail often, it would be a good idea to invest in a pair of binoculars that can handle the marine environment. Not only are they used for safety on the water, but also for navigation and sightseeing. For instance, if you spot a dolphin or a whale from a far away, having binoculars nearby would make the experience more memorable.

33. Boating Knife

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If you thought the use of knives were just confined to the kitchen, then you thought wrong. There are several sailing knives or marine knives practical for a sailor’s everyday use. In particular, they can be used to cut a small line and even heavy rope.

34. Boating Goggles

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You may want to look at several boating goggles, depending on what you need. Sunglasses for boating are useful for reducing the glare from the sun and its reflection on the water. There are also night vision marine goggles for boating.

35. Zip Ties

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Zip ties or nylon cable ties are essential to any boating trip. These will take care of loose cables on deck, so you don’t accidentally trip and fall into the water. Marine grade zip ties are extremely durable. They come in varying tensile strength and some are even reusable.  

36. Flashlight

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Boating flashlights are important boat accessories, as they help you scrounge around for supplies during night time. Additionally, they can give more illumination for long distance visibility. Adjustable diffusers changes beam output depending on your need. Marine grade flashlights also function as a signal for help or an indication of your presence to other boats. Rechargeable and waterproof marine flashlights are a popular choice for this exact reason.

37. Boat Paddle

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Wade around the eater even without the use of an engine. Having boat paddles on board makes this possible. If you’re bringing a kayak with you to help you explore more narrow passages, that’s even more perfect.

38.    Dry Box

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Invest in a waterproof storage boxes for boars. Commonly called a dry box, these types of containers will keep your technology safe from the water. Some variants of waterproof gear boxes also float, so that gives you extra peace of mind.  

39.    Air Fresheners

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“How do I get rid of boat smell?” or “My boat smells like sewage”

If you find yourself having these thoughts, then investing in a boat odor eliminator or boat deodorizer. These will reduce, if not totally remove, the smell of smoke, toilets, and other smells inside your marine vessel.  

40.    Boat Canvas snapper

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Install your boat canvas in a snap! Canvas snap tools or canvas snap kits will make it easier to maintain, replace, install, and remove your boat canvas. They come in a variety of options, so look around for the most compatible with your marine canvas needs.  

41.    Snap-in Carpet

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Snap-in carpets are a great way to furnish your boat or update your boat’s upholstery. Alternatively, if you’re just in the mood for re-carpeting, you can look into snap-in boat carpets. Check out DIY snap-in boat carpet kits.

42.    Mesh Bag

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A boat mesh bag, also called a mesh dive bag, is a perfect place to keep your gear in. It doesn’t take up much space, plus your gear will get the chance to drain even as you put them in storage.

43.    Heater

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Keep yourself warm on the water with a portable boat heater. Aside from keeping making your space cozy, marine heaters also protect your boat from freezing temperatures. They can run on diesel, propane, solid fuel, or electricity.

44.    LED bulbs

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Save energy by replacing your boat lights with low voltage LED light bulbs. LED bulbs are inexpensive options. Moreover, they are brighter than halogen or incandescent lights.

45.    Boat covers

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Boat covers are essential if you want to protect your marine vessel from the harsh elements and maintain its pristine condition when you’re putting it up for storage. You can choose from semi-custom boat covers, universal boat covers, waterproof boat covers, or snap-on boat covers.

46.    Canvas top

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Choosing a good marine canvas will enhance your boating experience. You can choose from a convertible top, bimini top, bimini visor, or bimini side curtains. Any of them will provide some shade for the cockpit or deck area. In this way, you won’t be under direct sunlight.

47.    Portable Toilet

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Self-contained marine toilets are important boat accessories. These portable toilets for boating or marine porta potties are low-cost and simple but most of all, they’re a lifesaver when nature calls. To illustrate, imagine going to a large body of water with young children or people with medical issues. Boat porta potties will save you from potential disasters.

48.    Hardtop

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Boat hard tops have both a functional and aesthetic purpose. Boat accessories like this one are custom-made and a little more expensive than regular canvas tops. That being said, if you have money to spare, it’s well worth the price tag. Apart from protecting you from the elements, boat hard tops may be used as a storage solution for your gear. Alternatively, depending on its size, you can also use it as a lounging area.

49.    Livewell

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If fishing is one of the activities you plan to do while boating, having a livewell system is a must.

“What are boat livewells?”

Boat livewell systems let you use fresh bait. At the same time, you can store your catch in them and keep them alive.

50.    Marine Sanitation Device (MSD)

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Boating is fun, but don’t forget to be responsible about your waste. For this reason, you need to have an MSD onboard. This will treat, process, and store the sewage that has collected in your vessel. Make sure you read up on the MSD requirements when boating on inland waters in order to avoid legal troubles. If you prefer, you can look up type III MSDs, which are said to have the least effect on the environment.

51. Boat Buffer

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Lastly, if you want to get your boat spick and span, one of the boat accessories you need is a good boat buffer. You can do this manually or mechanically, depending on your skill level and confidence. No matter which method you use, you’ll end up with boat that looks brand new due to its polished hull.

Never lose power with these five items

Power sources are important boat accessories as well. While at sea, you might want to power up certain gadgets such as a refrigerator, coffee maker, or microwave. More importantly, losing power in the middle of an ocean doesn’t seem like a great scenario either. Take a look at some examples below:

52. Deep Cycle Battery

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Deep cycle batteries are the heart of any boat. They are the source of long term power for much of the boat’s operations.

53. Jump Pack

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Imagine this. You’ve reached your destination at the heart of the ocean but you’re ready to head back to shore. However, your engine won’t start. What’ll you do? You’ll never have to know if you carry a marine jump starter with you.

The lesson?

Invest in a jump pack so you avoid situations like the one we described above.  

54. Onboard Battery Charger

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Charging your batteries is a regular part of maintaining and operating your boat. However, it can be a hassle to keep taking out your batteries whenever they are running low on power. This is where onboard marine battery chargers come in. Marine chargers allow you to charge batteries without taking them out of your ship.

55. Phone Charger

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When you go boating, it’s important to make sure you maintain power for your means of communication, one being your phone. For this reason, phone charger essential boat accessories. You can look up how to install a USB charger or add a USB port on a boat. Alternatively, you could look into wireless phone chargers.

56. Portable generator

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“Do you need a generator on a boat?”  

If the answer is yes, but your boat can’t handle a permanent installation, portable generators may be the answer. If you look in the market, there are several portable generators for boat use. Just make sure to consider the size of your boat as well as the storage location. Know that you cannot store the portable generator in the boat engine compartment for safety reasons.

57. Solar or Wind Power

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Alternatively, you can opt for the more environmentally-friendly choice: green energy. This option might have a higher upfront cost, but you get to save money in the long term. Moreover, it takes up less space and is easy to install.

Here are 6 objects that will give you peace of mind

Equally important when boating is the presence of spare or extra gear. When you find yourself in a sticky situation, you’ll thank the heavens you had the foresight to pack the following:

58. Engine

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The purpose of having a second engine is simple, really. Imagine this scenario:

You’re in the middle of boating but then your engine breaks down and stops working. If you have one engine, that’s it. Chances are, you’ll get stranded. Now, if you have an emergency backup motor or auxiliary outboard motor, you’ll have a higher chance of making it home.

Thus, if you’re deciding on spare boat accessories to have, don’t forget an extra engine.  

59. Propeller

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Boat propellers, a.k.a. props, are important accessories to have if you want to maximize the performance of your vehicle. They thrust the boat forward, helping your engine have optimum performance. Given their importance, you should be prepared to change your prop in case they get damaged while you’re boating.

60. Batteries (VHF)

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As mentioned above, marine VHF radios are a must-have in boating. To add to that, you should also prepare spare battery packs. This will ensure you have a contingency plan, in case your marine radio rans out of power.

61. Fuel

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How far can a boat go on a tank of gas? If you’re planning on taking a week-long trip or going on a fishing excursion far from land, you’d probably need more than one full tank. Boat gas tanks can only get you so far. For this reason, many sailors carry reserve fuel You can do the same by exploring the possibility of adding a second fuel tank or installing auxiliary fuel tanks to your boat.

62. Dock line

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If you’ve been paying attention, you’d notice this is the second time we mentioned dock lines in this article. That’s because it’s important to also bring spare dock lines. Many sailors bring one or two extra dock lines whenever they go boating. Aside from being prepared for a broken dock line, extra dock lines can be useful for extending your reach when docking.

63. Drain Plugs

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Rounding up our list of spare boat accessories to have are drain plugs. Getting water in your hull is inevitable. This is why drain plugs for boating are important. Marine drain plugs give you a way to drain it out and prevent it from returning.  

Bring these and you’ll never get bored

Fun and entertainment is part and parcel of a boating trip. There are just a number of activities you can do in a marine environment.

Imagine the following:

First, taking it easy basking under the warmth of the sun.

Second, stealing some time for yourself as you cast a rod and wait for fish to bite.

Third, getting an adrenaline rush with skiing.

The items below will surely come in handy:

64. Tube

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Boat tubes are a great way to bring fun and enjoyment to a boating trip. While these towable tubes are common for individuals, there are also 3-person towable tubes in the market.            

65. Air Pump

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Gone are the days where you’d turn blue before getting an inflatable to blow up. Nowadays, air pumps are easy to acquire. Consequently, they’ll make your life easier.  

66. Tow Rope

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Watersports often involve towing. For this reason, it’s important to bring a tow rope with you on your boating trip to maximize the possibilities.

67. Slide

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If you aren’t a fan of the adrenaline rush from intense watersports, then having an inflatable slide or boat water slide is a good alternative. Moreover, it’s a great activity for all ages.  

68. Wide Hat

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Sunglasses and sunscreen aren’t the only way you can protect yourself from the sun. Avoid getting painful sunburn on the face with a sailing hat, which usually take the form of wide-brimmed hats.

69. Boat Seat Umbrella

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In addition to a wide hat, a boat seat umbrella will also make lounging under the sun more comfortable. This is especially useful for those who want to go fishing.

70. Water Proof Camera

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Document your boating adventure with a waterproof camera. To capture water activities better, you can opt for an action marine camera or underwater boat camera.

71. Camping Hammock

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If you thought camping hammocks could only be used for you are sorely mistaken. Hammocks for sailboats are becoming popular because of their comfortability and alleged ability to alleviate sea sickness. Why don’t you find out if this is true? Discover the joy of having a boat hammock to hang out in.

72. Inflatable pool

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We know what you’re thinking.

“Why would I possibly need an inflatable pool when I’m already boating?”

Hear us out. Even if this seems silly, it has some merits – one being the ability to set boundaries, so you don’t get carried away by the waves. Moreover, you can control the depth of the pool so there’s no fear of drowning. It’s perfect if you’re going boating with family, don’t you think so?

73. Lounge chair

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Also among the boat accessories who want to spend a relaxing afternoon basking under the sun and taking in the sea breeze is a lounge chair.

74. TV antenna

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“How do I get good TV reception on a boat?”

The answer is by investing in a high-quality marine TV antenna. This is so you don’t miss an episode of your beloved show even if you go boating.

75. Speakers

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If you’re investing in an entertainment system aboard your ship, then you should go all out. Improve your sound system with a pair of speakers.

76. Deck chairs

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If you want to lounge around your boat deck with friends and family, foldable deck chairs are a must. Additionally, they save space as you can hide them away when not in use.

77. Dive Platform

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Forget watersports and lounging around. If you want to explore the undersea and go scuba diving, snorkeling, or freediving, you should have a boat swim or dive platform.

78. Dive compressor

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If one of your primary activities for boating is scuba diving, then you should really invest in dive compressors.

79. Fish Box

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Alternatively, if you’re boating to go fishing, then you need a fish box to keep your catch fresh. Having a fish box cool prevent them from spoiling and consequently, making your boat a smelly mess.

80. Fish Finder

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Another must-have boat accessory for boating anglers is a fish finder. It will help you locate fish underwater.

Never go hungry with these cooking accessories

Another enjoyable aspect of boating is the ability to prepare fresh meals. Given the limited space and power supply, you don’t have to get every item below. However, they’re certainly useful boat accessories.

81. Grill

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There’s nothing quite like the experience of having a barbecue on a boat. As such, boat grills are nice accessories to have on board.

82. Cooler

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If there’s food, then there must also be drinks. Coolers are a great way to keep beverages cold and refreshing.

83. Cup Holder

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Don’t make a mess while hosting a get-together with friends or family. To prevent spillage, having multiple cup holders installed on deck is useful.

84. Cooking Set

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This next one is quite obvious. Having a complete cooking set, with pots, pans, and utensils, will make it easier to prepare food.

85. Nesting dishes

nesting dishes for boating
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Nesting dishes make it so you can have a ton of plates, cups, or bowls without consuming so much space. As a result, you can host more people and have more fun.

86. Microwave

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Sometimes, it can be a hassle to make a meal the traditional way. This is where microwaves come in. You can just heat up pre-made meals or take up instant meals.

These navigation tools make boating 10x better

We know this list of boat accessories is quite extensive, but are you still with us?

The next accessory group we’ll present has to do with navigation. Navigating through a marine environment can be challenging. When you’re deep into one of your travels, you’ll just be surrounded by water. North, East, West, and South, no matter where you look, it’s water. Rarely will you see a recognizable static landmark. That is to say, unless it’s night time and you’ve found the North Star, Polaris.

Here are some useful navigation tools:

87. Marine GPS

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It doesn’t matter if you aren’t great with directions. All you need is a marine GPS to help you find your way in large bodies of water. For instance, the ocean has many inlets you could get lost in.  

88. Compass

marine compass
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We know there are many technological advancements in boat navigation today. However, a compass still has its uses. We would argue it’s still a relevant tool, as it anchors any navigational system. That is to say, it gives a fixed reference – always to the North Pole.

89. Chartbook

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Nautical chartbooks are great to have at hand, in case your GPS system becomes faulty. Just make sure they’re up to date so you don’t run into trouble.

90. Anemometer

anemometer for boating
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Wind speed and wind direction are important in boating, which is why you need an anemometer for sailing.

91. Navigation Lights

navigation lights
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Every boat is mandated to have navigation lights installed. They give information on your position, especially when visibility is limited due to sea conditions.

92. Depth finder

depth finder
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From its name, the depth finder is a tool used to determine water’s depth. That’s it. It’s commonly used in shallow waters. Moreover, it’s often confused with a fish finder, but a fish finder also gives graphic information.

93. Trolling Motor

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To have a better chance at catching fish, many anglers use trolling motors. This lets you traverse through water silently, in hopes of getting the drop on the fish.

These organizers will change your boat living space

This is the last leg of our list of boat accessories.

There’s nothing like a well-organized space. Our category of boat accessories, storage and organizing tools, might be a small thing but they can revolutionize the limited space of your boat.

Here’s why:

Organizers will clear up some space aboard your ship. It will group like equipment together, and make sure everything has a place. Consequently, a neater appearance will make your ship look more spacious.

In case you might we wondering about examples:

94. Cockpit Organizer

boat cockpit organizer
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Cockpit organizers are a simple way to keep your boat neat and manageable. Boat caddy organizers can hold tools, or various knick knacks so you don’t misplace them.

95. Tackle Boxes

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A common problem for anglers is keeping their tackle gear in order. If left unchecked, sinkers, hooks, bait, lures, and leader lines can become one tangled mess. For this reason, a tackle box is a great boat storage compartment idea.

96. Fishing Rod Holder

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A fishing rod holder is a great solution for keeping your fishing rods organized. As an additional benefit, you can ensure that they secure and in pristine condition.

97. Paddle Keeper

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Paddle keepers have the same end goal as fishing rod holders – organizing your paddles and saving space.

98. Surfboard rack

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A surfboard rack is a great thing to have so you don’t leave your surfboards lying around just anywhere. With this tool, you have a designated place for your beloved surfboard.

99. Jet Ski Mount

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Instead of towing your jet ski to your intended destination, install a mount on your swim platform.

100. Kayak holder

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A kayak holder functions in the same way as surfboard racks, in that it also keeps your kayaks orderly and secure.

Never forget your boat accessories with this checklist

All in all, the boating life is not something you just dive into. It requires a lot of thought and preparation, particularly when investing in important boat accessories. This list of 100 must-have boat accessories was created to serve as a guide or checklist so you can have a seamlessly enjoyable water adventure, without being burdened by worry of fear.

Lena Horner
the authorLena Horner
Lena Horner is a LA Galaxy fan who does freelance writing and marketing. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in Marketing, she enjoys the outdoor. Lena enjoys the outdoor and is constantly convincing her partner to live in an RV fulltime.

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