Are You Planning On Setting Sail? Here is a Pre-Departure Checklist.

Rutter Mills Law Firm

Are You Planning On Setting Sail? Here is a Pre-Departure Checklist.

Car Accident Info

What should be included in your Pre-Departure Checklist?

Every boat operator should follow a pre-departure checklist prior to boating. Both education of boating safety, as well as proper equipment, can better prepare you for a smooth ride on the water. Here is a list of items your boat should carry, as well as a list of what to check before setting sail.

Items you should have on hand:

  • A minimum of two U.S. Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices on board. Have at least one device per passenger. If the boat is more than 16 feet long, you must have an additional throwable device.
  • Have a horn, whistle, or bell on hand (a minimum of two). The horn must be audible for at least u00bd mile. If the horn is portable, have a spare can of compressed air or a second device. Also, attach a whistle to each Personal Flotation Device.
  • A flashlight and extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit.
  • In a waterproof bag: Food and water. Extra clothing. Tarp/Shelter. Sunscreen SPF 30+.
  • Store flares, day signals, or other devices in a dry location. Check their expiration dates.
  • Store a basic toolbox in a safe location.
  • Spare parts, such as spark plugs and belts.
  • Store at least one fully charged fire extinguisher in a safe place.
  • Have at least one anchor set up and attached to an anchor line. Have extra docking lines on board. Inspect all lines.
  • Have at least two fenders on board.


  • Boat registration: current, properly displayed & certificate.
  • The vessel’s papers, radio license, fishing permit, etc.
  • State registration documentation and navigation rules.
  • Charts of all waters intended to cover, as well as a magnetic compass or other navigation tool.
  • A float plan. Leave the plan with a family member, friend, neighbor or a marina operator.
  • Boater Education Card.

What to do before setting sail:

  • Test engines, emergency cut-off cable, steering, gearshift and lights
  • Top off your fuel tank and check coolant levels.
  • Check for proper ventilation. Smell for fuel smells before departure.
  • Test bilge pump. Check for excessive water in bilges. Make sure bilge is dry and pump is functional
  • Drain plugs installed, thru hull fittings leak-free, sea cocks closed.
  • Check the weather forecast before departure. Have a device on board to check for weather updates. Inform all passengers of procedures for stormy weather or falls overboard.

If applicable:

  • Check selector switch is in the proper position.
  • Check the entire vessel for power.
  • Have fully charged spare batteries on board.

Make sure to educate all passengers about the flotation devices, locations and how to use distress signals, fire extinguishers, and the first aid kit. Also, it is very important to ride your boat sober. Boating under the influence is unfortunately a serious problem throughout the summer months. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a reckless or negligent boater, please contact the Virginia Admiralty Attorneys and personal injury lawyers at Rutter Mills for a free consolation.