Departure Checklist

  1. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

    Always check local weather conditions before departure- TV and radio forecasts can be a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.

  2. Sound Producing Devices

    Have a horn capable of producing a four-second blast audible for at least ½ mile on board. If using a portable air horn, have a spare can of air. Attach a whistle to each PFD.

  3. Distress Signals

    Make flares, day signals, etc., accessible and ensure they are stores in a dry location. Carry signals at all times even if not required by the Coast Guard and inform passengers of their location and safety rules for proper usage.

  4. Tools and Spares

    Carry a basic toolbox with tools appropriate for your boat. Carry a box of spares including fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through-hull plugs, etc.

  5. Fuel and Oil

    Top off your fuel tanks. If you can’t, have enough fuel to provide a reasonable margin of safety for your return. Check the engine oil and coolant levels.

  6. Fire Extinguishers

    Carry at least one fire extinguisher and make sure it is accessible. Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure and review with passengers and crew.

  7. Ventilation

    On any powered vessel or auxiliary powered sailboat, or vessels using LPG for cooking or heat, check that all interior spaces are well ventilated before departure. If fuel smells are detected before ventilating, check after running the blowers for several minutes before starting. If odor persists, shut down the engine and look for the source of the leak.

  8. Bilges

    Check to be sure bilges are reasonably dry and that pumps are not running excessively. Clean up any spilled oil or waste in bilges to prevent overboard discharge.

  9. Weather Forecast

    Always check the weather forecast before boating. Have a radio on board to receive weather updates.

  10. Battery Care

    If you have a dual charging system, make sure the selector switch is in the proper position and the power is on to the entire vessel. Have aboard spare batteries for accessories such as your handheld radio, flashlight, portable navigational aid, etc.

  11. Docking and Anchoring Tips

    Have at lease one anchor set up and bend-on to your anchor line. Carry two or three extra dock lines. Visually inspect the lines you use for chafe or wear. Carry at least two fenders on-board for docking or towing if required.

  12. Rules & Documentation

    Have the ship’s papers, radio license, fishing permit, etc. on board. Have the chart or charts for the area you intend to cruise in, regardless of your level of local knowledge.