Pre-Flight Check List For Private Boaters

Pre-Flight Check List For Private Boaters

Preparation for any boating on the open ocean requires careful planning to ensure a fun and safe day on the water. A lack of preparation can turn an awesome day on the water into a long boat ride at the end of a tow rope or worse.

Recently, our team was brainstorming on some new content topics for 2021. Our Editor-In-Chief, Capt. Scott Goodwin suggested a “pre-flight” checklist like private pilots use but for fishermen. Since I love to fly and boat, I immediately raised my hand.

If you’ve ever seen a pilot’s checklist, it includes everything from Pre-Flight inspection, to take-off/landing procedures and emergency procedures. I’m going to try and apply the same concept for us private boaters. In this article, I will break down the checklist for your boat.

  • Unhook charger/shore power
  • Inspect bilge for any leaks or fluids
  • Check oil and engine fluid levels
  • Turn on engine blowers (if equipped)
  • Turn on battery switches
  • Unlock cabin/hatches/tackle storage
  • Verify boat documents on board (registration, documentation, insurance, and Mexican permits)
  • Verify all passengers have a current fishing license and Mexican license/passport if headed South
  • Verify ditch bag on board, loaded, and current (flares, mirror, GPS Radio, batteries, water, etc)
  • Verify at least one USCG approved life jacket for each passenger and a throwable flotation device
  • Verify the required fire extinguishers are on board and not expired
  • Verify horn or other sound-making devices on board and working
  • Verify life raft is current if equipped
  • Verify anchor and rode onboard and in good shape
  • Check all seacocks for smooth function and correct position
  • Verify extra oil, hydraulic trim fluid, steering fluid on board
  • Inspect running lights
  • Verify radar working (if equipped)
  • Raise any antennas, outriggers, or tower
  • Ask for a “Radio Check” to test all VHF radios on board including handheld
  • Check steering and shifters for smooth operation
  • Check steering rams for leaks.
  • Verify all bilge pumps and float switches are operational
  • Verify bait pump and back up (if equipped) in working order
  • Verify shifters in neutral
  • Verify emergency lanyard is connected (if equipped)

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