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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