What Do You Need an Inflatable Boat for?

Inflatable boats are an affordable and convenient alternative compared to traditional boats. What goes into owning one though? While buying and maintaining a boat is fairly simple, there are things to keep in mind in terms of safety, repairs, and what you legally need in order to operate an inflatable boat.

Here we will go over everything you need for an inflatable boat including safety equipment, license and registration requirements, and more.

License and Registration Requirements for Inflatable Boats

A license to operate a boat, both traditional and inflatable, is needed when the boat is motorized. Whether the motor is gas or electric, a license is still needed. However, you do not need to have a driver’s license in order to get a boating license which allows persons of all ages to obtain one.

Similarly, you will also need to register your boat which requires a proof of sale, side photo of the boat, and a government issued ID card.

Additionally, you will also need a “proof of competency.”  Proof of competency requirements include any of the following:

  • Proof of passing a boating safety course in the form of a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
  • If you passed a boating safety course before April 1, 1999 you will need a certificate of proof in place of the newer Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOO).
  • There are other potential forms that may be acceptable but if you plan to operate a boat regularly, obtaining a PCOO is often the recommended solution since it is free. You simply need to pass a written safety test, however; if you do not have boating experience you will likely need to take a paid boating safety course first. You can take the test without taking a course but you will need to take the test in person, not online.


    Life Jacket Requirements

    Are life jackets required on inflatable boats? The short answer is Yes. Not only could you face a legal fine for not having proper life jackets, it is also dangerous to not have them even on calm waters.

    Now, for a longer answer, here are some specifications to keep in mind when choosing a life jacket:

  • Each person on the boat should have a properly fitted life jacket. Personal flotation devices that you hold onto as opposed to wearing do not count. Ideally, keep a jacket on board for the maximum occupancy. For example, if you have a four person boat, there should be four life jackets. Even if you do not plan to use the maximum occupancy, having the jackets available will keep you covered just in case.
  • You can have inflatable or non-inflatable life jackets but inflatable jackets must be worn at all times (though they do not need to be inflated). Non-inflatable jackets must simply be onboard.
  • Boaters under the age of 16 are required to have a non-inflatable style jacket.
  • Children also require life jackets and the jackets must be fitted properly. Children under 9kg are too small for a secure fit and should not be brought onto the boat at all.

  • Other Safety Equipment for Inflatable Boats

    Inflatable boats, just like traditional boats, should be equipped with some first aid items. You should also have the necessary equipment needed to make emergency repairs and to bale water. Here are the top things you need for safety and repairs on your inflatable boat:

    Repair Kit: An inflatable boat repair kit will typically come with patches, an adhesive, an abrasive emery cloth, and o-rings.  While patch kits have their limitations, they are effective for small tears and punctures. Make sure to review instructions on how to use the kit before getting out on the water. 

    First Aid Kit: Just about any standard first aid kit will do. Ideally, choose a first aid kit that is made for boats as this will be waterproof.

    Flares: Flares can be shot into the sky in order to signal distress. Be sure to store these securely in a case to avoid accidental firing. 

    Watertight Flashlights: If you have a motorboat you will have signaling lights. However, if your inflatable boat does not have a motor you will need a watertight flashlight to use for signaling. 

    Sound Signaling Device: In addition to visual signals, you will also need audible ones which are more effective during the daylight. Air horns and whistles that do not have a peal are best for this job. 

    Bilge Pump: A bilge pump is legally required on any watercraft that is deep enough that taking on water could capsize it. However, do not be daunted by this requirement. While you can choose an official bilge pump, you can also simply use a 4 liter jug. It simply has to be big enough to effectively bale water out when necessary. If you do plan to use a jug, just repurpose an empty jug by cutting off the bottom.

    Emergency Supplies: In terms of food and water, how much you take with you will depend on several factors like how many people are onboard and how far out you’re going. Generally, there should be at least a few bottles of water per person and calorie dense emergency rations like protein bars. Similarly, if the absolute worst happens and you are stranded, emergency thermal blankets can help keep you warm. 

    Oars: Even if your boat is motorized, oars are a good backup plan if anything goes wrong with the engine. 

    Fire Extinguisher: If you have an electric motor, you will not need to worry about this. For gas motors though you will need one. 

    High Frequency Radio: Being out on the water is an amazing experience but it is not great for cell phone reception. When you can’t rely on your phone, you will need a high frequency radio to keep up on weather announcements.


    Find the Right Inflatable Boat for You

    A safe and fun boating experience starts with the boat itself. How many people do you plan to take with you? Do you want a motorized or non-motorized boat? Do you plan on white water rafting? Each of these elements will affect what you need for an inflatable boat.

    At Perun Outdoors, our range of inflatable boats and kayaks are designed to give you what you need for the best experience on the water. Browse our complete selection of inflatable boats.

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