What's up: Things can go wrong in a few seconds, so having the right equipment, thinking ahead and keeping calm are key.
EPIRB: An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon is a must for anyone heading offshore. It allows the Coast Guard to find you anywhere in the world, and the signal reaches it almost instantly. Some beacons can be attached to your vessel so they automatically deploy if the boat sinks.
Life jackets: There are many different ones on the market. A Type 1 vest keeps a person's head above water even if they are unconscious.
Life raft: Again, there are many from which to choose. The most common concern is space. But some can be packaged in a canister so they deploy automatically. The manual design is packaged in a bag and takes up about half the space as a normal one.
Satellite telephone: This is especially important when going offshore. The more ways you can keep in touch with land, the better off you are if something goes wrong. These also can be used to call for nonemergency help such as a breakdown.
VHF radio and antenna: This will keep you in contact with the Coast Guard, a tow company and other vessels in the area. But be aware, most won't transmit more than 20 miles.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 and fintasticinc.com.