Boating Checklist

Sail smoothly into your outdoor adventure

Download Checklist as Adobe PDF

This checklist assumes you've done all the maintenance checks and have been keeping your boat winterized and up-to-date. If you have a galley and sleeping quarters, see our RV Checklist for an idea of what household items you'll want to bring onboard your floating home.

Before you Head Out on the Water

  • Leave your itinerary with friends or family - include a description of your boat
  • Charts of the area and compasses
  • Registration certificate or documentation
  • Check to ensure batteries are fully charged, covered, securely fastened down
  • Check all gauges, signals, electronic devices

Safety Equipment

Equipment isn't enough. Be sure that everyone on your boat is familiar with the safe workings of the vessel, is securely fit into their life jacket and knows how to call for help in case of an emergency.

  • Wearable personal flotation devices (or PFDs, a.k.a. life jackets) that are:
    • Coast Guard approved
    • In good condition
    • Assigned and properly fitted to each person aboard
    • Easily accessible
    • Right type for the kind of boating you plan on doing.
  • Throwable PFDs (life ring)
  • ABC fire extinguisher(s) - for types of fires
  • Visual distress signals (orange smoke, flares, orange distress flags and / or electric distress lights)
  • Air horns and / or whistles
  • Anchor line and anchor
  • First aid kit (see First Aid Checklist for details)
  • Radio - either very high frequency (VHF) or single side band (SSB)
  • Tool kit
  • Bilge pump
  • Bright flashlight or searchlight
  • Navigation lights (spare bulbs)
  • Alternate propulsion - paddle or oar

Personal Items

Because the chances of getting wet are high and the temperature on the water lower than onshore, be sure to bring extra layers and a change of warm clothes. Of course, you'll also need:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses (floatable versions are a good idea)
  • Binoculars
  • AM radio (static warns of nearby lightning)
  • Drinking water

Optional Gear

Gadget needs will vary with the style of boat and amenities on board. If you're aboard a houseboat, then load up on DVDs, music and XBOX games. But even if you're on a small fishing boat, you'll want proof of the one that got away. Be sure to bring:

  • Camera (extra film or memory card)
  • Extra batteries for electronics
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