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)

More Checklist Articles Here

Capt. Ali Hussainy
Ali Hussainy caught his first fish, a trout, with his grandfather at the age of three, and that sparked a fire in him as he chased the next bite all over the sierras. When he caught his first bonito from the San Diego bait barge, his life changed again. Trout never had the same luster — he was on ...