An organized boat is more comfortable and safer than one cluttered with items on the floor and thrown into storage spaces. In this buyer's guide, I'll discuss some of the basic boat accessories that will keep your vessel organized.
Cases, Boxes and Bags
Keeping your gear stored in containers is a big part of staying organized while on the water, as well as when loading and unloading your boat. Three storage options are cases, boxes and bags.
|Storage boxes come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit your individual needs.|
Cases: A waterproof case can be used to safely transport expensive and fragile items, especially in wet conditions. Available in hard or soft plastic models, waterproof cases come in a range of sizes from ones small enough for a cell phone to extra-large cases with foam padding for bulky items. A step down from a waterproof case is a dry storage box. These boxes will keep items dry in the rain, but may not keep the water out in heavy rains or if submerged. For expensive items, such as electronics, consider a waterproof case, while for other less costly items a storage box will often suffice.
Storage Boxes: Storage boxes are also useful to help organize a boat and can be classified as either portable or permanently installed models, like a hatch liner. Look for storage boxes with a watertight, O-ring seal to keep moisture out. Portable models can be used for carrying first-aid supplies or Coast Guard-required safety equipment. Portables can be better suited for smaller boats without lockable storage spaces, so you can remove them and their valuable contents when the boat is unsupervised.
Smaller, portable boxes include plastic, or polypropylene, see-through storage boxes that come in a variety of sizes. Known for storing fishing tackle, these boxes can house anything from small hardware components to basic kitchen items.
For larger boats, permanent storage can be a simple upgrade to your boat by installing a hatch liner and cover. If you're an angler, you may also want to consider installing a hatch liner specifically designed to hold tackle trays to tuck away tackle boxes.
Boat Bags: An alternative to a case or box, a boat bag is specifically designed for on the water use. Like a duffle bag, they may contain removable shoulder straps and side carrying straps, side pockets, mesh pockets, and some come with roller wheels. Additionally, the bag's material is often waterproof, usually made of a PVC-coated material. Most boat bags also feature a heavy-duty reinforced bottom that is also waterproof, letting you store them on the floor of a wet boat. Note that few boat bags are submersible, but most are designed to stay dry in light to modest rains. If you need a submersible, waterproof container, a case is often your best choice.
Electronics are a standard in most boats today. They assist in navigation and communication, with fish finders, GPS units and VHF radios being the most popular types. Yet, with these gadgets comes a need to store them and keep their wiring tidy.
|A swivel or swing-arm mount allows you to adjust and rotate the unit for various angles.|
Mounting Options: Permanent electronics come with mounting hardware and accessories for mounting handheld GPS and radios are available. Handheld mounts keep the units secure during travel as well as house or hold the wiring connections. To increase the viewing range of a fish finder or a GPS, a swivel or swing-arm mount allows you to adjust and rotate the unit for various angles.The other option is to wire a second fish finder at the bow of your boat and there are a plethora of accessories to help with this task including cables, transducers, mounts, and switches.
Wiring: With a variety of electronics on board, controlling the clutter of the wiring is not as difficult as it seems. Using a mount for each unit will help keep wires tucked away. Wires can be kept compact using plastic tie-downs, and wiring at the battery-end can be housed in a battery box. Battery boxes secure batteries in place using a mounting hardware and a strap. For those without boxes, a battery tray will serve a similar function when teamed with a tie-down kit. A battery terminal with connections for separate leads is useful to secure several wires to the battery. Another item to help with clutter is an onboard battery charger. If it is permanently installed in your boat, you will not need to carry batteries or chargers to and from your boat. Chargers also help keep the boat's wiring system tidy and tucked away. With an onboard charger, all you need is an extension cord.
Boaters spend a lot of time seated while on the water. Outfitting your rig with a supportive seat can increase comfort and reduce backache. When purchasing boat seats, look for quality construction with heavy foam padding for support as well as UV- and mildew-resistant, marine-grade vinyl covering. Folding seats let you minimize their size when unused and a snap strap will ensure they stay folded down during travel. Swivels mounts let you to turn the seats instead of your neck, reducing strain.
For anglers, pro seats, let you lean while fishing and feature a smaller seat to minimize the space they take up on casting decks. For the hunter, many seats come in camouflage color patterns, keeping your boat disguised but still comfortable. To help organize frequently used items within reach, consider a small accessory holder that can be mounted to a seat's side or its support post.
For anglers, a fishing rod holder will significantly help keep your boat clutter free during travel and fishing. A variety of systems are available. Units come in tubes or grooved racks for individual rod and reel storage. Tube units are designed to store rods vertically and may contain other storage holes for additional items, such as fillet knifes or pliers. Grooved racks tend to be for horizontal or overhead rod storage and some feature bungee cords to keep items secure during travel.
Another system that is effective in smaller fishing boats is a Velcro strap system that mounts to the side or deck of a boat. The bottom of the strap is secured to the boat and rods are then wrapped and secured in the loose ends, creating a snug and customized hold. Individual Velcro wraps can also be used to secure a series of rods together to transport out of the boat.
|A fishing rod holder will significantly help keep your boat clutter free during travel and fishing.|
Part of the peace-of-mind from boating is being prepared to deal with an emergency should one arise (whether a large threat or minor risk). Here are some safety items to carry to ensure you're prepared and organized. A first aid kit should accompany you whenever you take to the water. As a precaution, store kits in a waterproof bag or a case. Supplement your kit with water, sunscreen and an emergency blanket.
A ladder that can be mounted on the boat's side is another useful tool. In an event requiring a water rescue, a ladder allows someone to easily climb into a boat. They are extremely helpful in cold weather or rough water conditions. You should also carry the required US Coast Guard safety equipment, which may include a signaling device (horn or whistle), visual distress signals (such as flares), a fire extinguisher, a throw rope and life vests. If you own a boat that does not have navigation lights, consider installing a set or purchasing a pair of portable ones. Lights are required by the Coast Guard from sunset to sunrise and in reduced visibility situations.
General Hardware and Boating Gear
Keeping your boat organized can be aided by several simple accessories, which I've grouped in this category. A tool kit can go a long way to keep your boat organized, housing all the tools, materials and hardware in one storage box. Another great add-on is a paddle keeper. This device is designed to vertically or horizontally hold your paddle, keeping it stored out of the way, but accessible when needed.
Small organizers, in either screw or suction cup mounts, can be great for storing small, but frequently needed items in one place. Units are available to hold lures, drinks, hand-held radios or GPS units, binoculars, garbage bags, and general boxes for other personal items. Bungee cords are also useful to keep items strapped down in windy conditions or during travel. Look for plastic hook models if you are concerned with scratching your boat.
The above items are just a sampling of the many accessories you can purchase to upgrade the organization, comfort and safety of your boat. Many are inexpensive add-ons and it's a satisfying feeling (whether on land or water) when you need a specific item and you know exactly where to find it.