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What kind of safety kit should I have for my 12-ft aluminum boat -- for solo day trips on lakes in Eastern Ontario? I'm especially interested in having a waterproof kit with a waterproof flashlight.

So far, my experience with my existing Fox 40 boat safety kit hasn't been great (purchased one month ago from Canadian Tire):

enter image description here

  1. The kit's container isn't waterproof, not even when the lid is screwed on tightly (not cross-threaded) because there isn't a gasket. So the contents of the kit become waterlogged after heavy rain or if it sits in water in the bottom of the boat during storage.
  2. The flashlight isn't waterproof either; the metal parts inside the flashlight have rusted out; the flashlight batteries have rusted out too.
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    Normally, the first question is what equipment you need. What they sell as kit is not necessarily what you need (neither for your particular use-case nor by regulations)
    – PMF
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 6:52
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    Product recommendations are off-topic here, as the world might be changing. I think the question can be salvaged by rewriting it to be more general. Where do you intend to use it? On a small lake or on ocean crossings? Are you alone or with crew...
    – Manziel
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 6:53
  • @Manziel: The OP has this boat, so definitely nothing for crossing an ocean.
    – PMF
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 6:56
  • I know, but questions on SO/SE should contain all necessary information.
    – Manziel
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 7:23
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    For long term storage - probably a good idea to keep individual items in ziplock style bags and seperate spare batteries. I had my military kit sealed up for years with little degradation. And obviously - replace the items that seem unfit for purpose. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 5:32

3 Answers 3

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That exact safety kit was installed in the little aluminum boat that came with my cottage two years ago. The orange plastic is a lot paler -- it could be 10 or 20 years old-- but whistles and rope and such are very resilient. This winter we accidentally left it on the boat and in the spring, there was water in it (probably a freeze-thaw situation) and the flashlight was ruined. We bought a new flashlight from Amazon, where we could choose just what we wanted. The rest of the stuff is fine.

It should not sit in water at the bottom of the boat. Partly because you shouldn't have water at the bottom of the boat, and partly because it's a pain rolling around the bottom of the boat. Plus you're putting a lot of extra reliance on that waterproofness, asking it to endure sitting in water with the seal submerged for hours or days. It's a lot less to ask that it not leak when rain lands on the lid once in a while. Tie it up at the bow. Here's a not-great picture of the lid tied to our boat:

safety kit lid on boat

(Don't keep it hanging outside the boat, obviously, it should be in the boat, but hanging from the railing.) When you put the boat away for the winter, take the safety kit off the boat and put it inside the cottage or take it home. (You could either untie the lid from the boat, or unscrew the bottom from the lid and take just the bottom inside. It's a good time to test the flashlight when you do.)

The most important safety items are lifejackets for everyone, worn, not just kicking around in the boat. The kit stuff is for complying with the rest of the rules:

  • One appropriately-sized lifejacket or PFD that is approved for use in Canada for each person on board
  • A buoyant heaving line (floating rope) that’s at least 15 m long
  • A manual propelling device such as a paddle or an anchor with at least 15 m of rope, cable or chain
  • A bailer or hand pump to get water out of the boat
  • A sound-signalling device such as a whistle to use in the event of an emergency
  • A waterproof flashlight or 3 flares
  • Navigation lights if you’re going out during the hours of darkness or in conditions with reduced visibility
  • A fire extinguisher if the vessel has an inboard motor, a fixed fuel tank or any fuel-burning appliances
  • A reboarding device such as a ladder if the boat rises more than 0.5 m out of the water
  • A magnetic compass if the boat is over 8 m long or out of sight of navigation markers

The kit provides the rope, the whistle, and the bailer as well as the flashlight. You don't need the last 4 things, so lifejackets, at least one paddle and the kit means you're all set. We also have our paperwork for the boat in there, in a plastic bag. If you get pulled over you can show it to the water police, who will also be counting lifejackets.

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  • OK so it's a legal compliance kit, it doesn't need to work. They couldn't provide the life jackets, because there's a quality standard on those. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 2:14
  • lifejackets need to fit the humans who wear them, and you might need only ,1, or 4, or whatever. This is a little plastic bucket, you don't put lifejackets in it. The stuff in the kit does need to work, but rope and whistle are not things that "don't work". The flashlight is the weak link, for sure. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 10:08
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Clearly, you need a waterproof container (for small stuff) and a waterproof flashlight. The flashlight is required if you intend to use your boat during the night.

Corrosion is a big problem for all equipment that is used or stored on boats. As long as you're not going to northern Ontario, at least all the water you have there is fresh water, as the problem is even significantly worse in salt water environments. From my own experience, the mitigation against that is to either store stuff away from the water as much as possible or get the high-quality things.

I have the impression you where just unlucky and got the cheap stuff. Watertight flashlights clearly do exist, but they might cost a bit more than the $10 you used on yours. I would ask in an outdoor shop or chandler, or search for tests in outdoor magazines. You need something with an IP Code of IPX6 or better even IPX8. A quick search suggests such a flashlight would be at least $50.

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    the flashlight is insufficient if you intend to use your boat during the night. The rules are in my answer, you need navigation lights if you intend to boat at night. You need the flashlight even if you only intend to boat during the day. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 16:49
  • @KateGregory I don't know whether there are more strict local regulations, but the COLREGs allow simplifications for boats shorter than 7m. Indeed I missed that you still need a fixed white light when running under engine, but when rowing or sailing a flashlight is in fact sufficient.
    – PMF
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 17:54
  • There are cheap things that are IP6x marked - and do appear to actually be waterproof even against immersion. I've had a few from places like eBay and aliexpress.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 18:55
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    @ChrisH Sure, this is possible. But there's quite some luck involved IMHO. I rather spend $50 in a local shop than several times $5 on aliexpress, because I get a) warranty and b) a certain guarantee that it doesn't fail me in dire need.
    – PMF
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 19:15
  • @PMF mine around the $10-20 mark have usually ended up getting mislaid though I have lost a headtorch (borrowed from my kayak emergency kit) to a plastic clip failing meaning it no longer sealed. I've had more luck with those than with stuff I've had from the shops - and there's a much better selection online. In a real shop I seem to either find very dim, stupidly bright with no battery life, or really expensive top brands.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 21:05
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The Law
As per transport Canada and your boat: The minimum requirements are based upon the craft’s length. For a motorized craft no greater than 6 metres (19 feet 8 inches) in length, the following equipment is required:
a) An appropriately sized, Canadian-approved personal flotation device ( PFD ) or lifejacket, for each person on board;
b) A buoyant heaving line (15 metres in length);
c) Manual propelling device or anchor with at least 15 metres of rope, cable or chain;
d) Bailer or hand pump;
e) Sound-signalling device;
f) Navigation lights if the craft is used between sunset and sunrise or during periods of reduced visibility, i.e. mist and rain;
g) A class 5BC fire extinguisher for any craft equipped with an inboard motor, fixed fuel tank, and/or any fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigeration units;
h) A waterproof flashlight or 3 Canadian-approved flares (type A, B or C flares);
i) A vessel license if your craft is outfitted, even temporarily, with any motor of 10 hp (7.5 kW ) or more. Ensure your vessel is properly marked and you carry a copy of the vessel license. The two last items are not mandatory if your craft is not equipped with a motor (canoe, kayak, etc. ).

The Kit The best container is always a dry bag. Get all the necessary gear with you and go to an outdoor store (MEC, Cabela's, etc.) and buy a dry bag that can contain everything. Make sure to buy a very good one and not a cheap one from the dollarstore of WalMart...

THE best of the best flashlight that will never rust and will always work even if dropped into the water is a scuba flashlight. And you will have it for life. Problem solved! I recommend one of the following:

UK SL3 Dive Light
Kraken NR-800
GOBE 800 DE LIGHT AND MOTION

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