Ah, the first sunny spring day on the boat! Have you ever gone to smear sunblock on yourself on such a day and discovered that it had a 1999 expiration date and the consistency of cottage cheese? Don’t let that happen this year. Here are seven tips for outfitting yourself and your onboard carry-on items for the season:

spring boating
Keep these seven outfitting tips in mind this spring. Photo by David Ostwind

1. Sunblock. Is that sunblock on the boat more than a year old? Or wait, two years? Or wait, was that from Covid? Check the expiration date. If it’s three or more years old, throw it away and buy new sunblock for the season. If it doesn’t have an expiration date, yet you can’t remember where it came from and it has likely been left in the sunshine, throw it away and buy new sunblock. Most boaters prefer non-oily sunscreen products that don’t mess up the deck or cabin sole; others prefer “reef-safe” brands such as Blue Lizard, Harken Derm, Head Hunter, Raw Elements, and Waxhead. 

2. Protective shirts and hats. Some boaters prefer SPF protection shirts and hats, which have become popular and more widespread in recent years. Among popular brands with a good selection are Columbia, Huk, Pelagic, Lands End, and Patagonia. You can find nice SPF shirts, shorts, pants, and hats at any good chandlery or boat show. 

3. First aid kit. Most chandleries offer a pre-packaged marine first aid kit outfitted for boat-related emergencies. You may also create your own kit. Make sure to include bandages of varying sizes, steri-strips, an ace bandage, non-latex gloves, Neosporin, Benadryl cream, aloe vera gel, ibuprofen, Tylenol, aspirin, Benadryl, Pepcid, Pepto-Bismol, and Dramamine, Bonine, or some other motion-sickness medication. For a full list plus a description of the most common onboard injuries, check out proptalk.com/safety-series-onboard-medical-kit. 

4. Extra light. Don’t just rely on your smarphone as a flashlight on your boat; you can do better. Boaters inevitably will need extra light to see into dark compartments or to make their way into their home creek at night. Make sure your flashlight and headlamps are working and that you have extra batteries handy.

5. Coolers and coozies. Every year at boat show time, we at PropTalk wrestle with a broken cooler lid and say, “We need a new cooler.” Have you reached the same conclusion with your own cooler? Don’t be like us; get a new one. Your friends and family will thank you when they reach for a cold one. Stop by the PropTalk booth at the Bay Bridge Boat Show (April 12-14) for new PropTalk and FishTalk coozies for the boat. 

6. Towels and toys. Where are your beach towels? Are they still functional or have they turned into dog bed liners, absorbent pads for your leaky cooler, or moldy rags? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some fresh towels for that first dip into the Bay? Does your favorite floaty chair still inflate? How about the floating island for the kids? Inspect your onboard toys and make any replacements or additions before launch day.

7. Boat shoes. If it’s been a while since you upgraded your boat footwear, have a look at your selection of boat or water shoes or flip flops. If the bottoms are worn out and slippery, find something with better grips on the bottom. This may prevent an unnecessary fall and use of your new first aid kit (see #3). 

Happy spring boating!