Gear: Offshore Safety Check List


Type I Life Jackets

I have been a guest on a number of boats and I’m continually amazed by how many people will go offshore with Type III safety gear. A West Marine house brand Type I life jacket will do the trick for $100. It will do a better job at keeping your head above water for extended periods, which you would obviously want if you needed it out there. Attach a strobe light and a whistle. (Coast Guard regulations for charter boats by the way.)

Life Raft

The lack of life rafts on boats fishing offshore is another phenomenon that continues to amaze me. Obviously they aren’t cheap – you are looking at $1000 to purchase an adequate bag style version. That said, brand new, most boats geared for fishing offshore are well into six figures. Split that number in half, and a life raft is 1/50th the cost of the boat, and worth a helluva lot more if you need it. Get one.


I carry 2 different types:

1. A boat version that will automatically trigger a hydrostatic release if the boat goes down. Make sure you put it where you can get to it if it doesn’t.

2. A personal 406mghrtz that I keep in my ditch bag in case the boat version does not go off properly.




The Captain Seagull version is the best for the area south of Martha’s Vineyard; it has the lat/long for all the spots you need to know. It’s laminated and a perfect size for using on a center console.

Navionics App

Yes, it will work on your phone even when well outside your cell range. This app saved my butt three times. Once at the Dump when my system crashed in my 28 Carolina Classic; once in the Bahamas when my buddy’s 32 Regulator had the same issue and we were heading back to Miami; and recently when our GPS lost signal. It’s also great for planning trips on your IPad.



Ditch Bag for Cape Cod Waters

(4) Cyalume Light Sticks

(3) Hand held areal flares (for night)

(3) Hand held smoke flares (for day)

(1) Signal Mirror

(1) Distress Flag

(1) Canister of water dye

(1) Floating Flash Light

(1) Mini First Aid kit, not to replace the ship’s kit, which should be bigger.

(1) 16oz Bottle of Water

(1) Safety knife with rounded tip

(1) Bottle with critical medications

(1) Waterproof sunscreen

(1) Personal Locater Beacon*

(1) VHF Handheld radio*


*All of the above assumes that you have all the customary safety gear, which should be on any boat. Going offshore is a serious undertaking and bringing this extra gear is necessary for a safe trip. The above list is what the author carries on his boat. You are responsible for making your own pack list.

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