Depending on its size, your boat should have all or most of the following equipment.
- ANCHOR and sufficient anchor line. Larger boats must have two.
- LIFE PRESERVERS or life cushions - one for each person on board. They should be readily accessible.
- PADDLE OR OARS for small boats
- FLARES AND A FLASHLIGHT for signaling for help at night.
- NAVIGATION LIGHTS
- TOOLS to fit your engine.
- SPARE PARTS - spark plugs, etc. for your engine.
- BAILER OR BILGE PUMP
- FIRST AID KIT and manual
- CHART OR CHARTS of the area in which you intend to motor or sail.
- FIRE EXTINGUISHER - large boats should have two or more
- HORN or other sound producing device
- RING OR HORSESHOE BUOY AND LINE - for a crewman overboard
A suggested addition is a VHF or CB radio for local cruising so you can call for help if necessary. Boats transiting between islands should be equipped with a single side band radio to cover the greater distances. Also boats cruising the islands should have a compass, the appropriate charts and a copy of the "Yachtmans Guide to the Bahamas".
Always let a reliable person know where you are going and when you expect to return and stick to it. Stay in the general area you gave as a destination. Make sure he or she has the name and a full description of your boat (length, hull and deck colour, number and make of engines if out-board, bimini top, outriggers, fly-bridge, towing dingy etc.) and the number of persons on board. If you are overdue (more than 2 or 3 hours on a local trip for instance) the informer should call BASRA at (242)325-8864 or (242)322-3877 and give full information to the Duty Officer. You should not wait until dark before calling. The Duty Officer will decide on the urgency of the case and be able to make the prepartory steps. And...don't forget to cancel your float plan when you return.
Always take enough fuel for the trip. If possible take an extra can of fuel. You may have to slow down in rough weather and take twice as long to reach your destination.
Make sure all of your safety equipment is on board befor departure - life jackets or life cushions, flashlight and flares etc.
Always check the weather forecast before departure. Listen to the weather forecasts on any local radio stations. Check out the Bahamas Weather Forecast on this site.
Carry bottles of drinking water and food.
The primary reason for a capsize is over-loading or improper loading. It can happen also when broaching broadside to the waves in heavy weather. If your boat turns over, stay with the boat if it does not sink. Most small boats continue to float when turned over or fill with water. There is always the temptation to swim to shore, but, when you are in the water, you can not correctly judge the distance to shore. It is usually two or three times further than it looks. It is also far easier to see you holding on to a boat than to see a small person in the water.