Pre-Departure Checklist for boating

Pre-Departure Checklist for boating

What is a pre-departure checklist?

The pre departure checklist ensures that you have all necessary safety equipment on board, and that you are ready for anything that may happen out on the water.

Recreational boating should be fun, safe and hassle-free. No matter if you own, rent or are borrowing a pleasure craft, make sure it is in good working order and properly equipped before heading out on the water.

Better a few minutes of delay onshore than hours of waiting in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Knowingly operating a pleasure craft that is unseaworthy is a criminal offence. Your pleasure craft, its engine and equipment must be properly maintained (in good working order).

What should you do before leaving the dock on a boat?

  • Inspect your pleasure craft’s hull
  • Check for cracks or other damage.
  • If you are operating a power-driven pleasure craft check its electrical, fuel, propulsion and cooling systems
  • Make sure the throttle is operating smoothly and is not sticking or binding.
  • Make sure the steering is working properly.
  • Check the oil and fuel levels. 
  • Check all hoses and lines for leaks or cracks 
  • Make sure all clamps and belts are secure and in good shape.
  • Inspect, clean and replace spark plugs if necessary.
  • Check and change oil and water filters if necessary.
  • Check the battery’s charge and its fluid levels.
  • Be certain the drainage plug is in place.
  • Verify the load on your boat is well distributed. 

Boat Safety & Equipment Checklist

  • Are there enough PFDs of appropriate size for everyone on board?
  • Is all of the required equipment in good working order?
  • Do you have ample reserves of fuel for the trip or will you need to refuel?
  • Do you have maps and charts?
  • Is your VHF radio working properly?
  • Do you have a first aid kit, basic tools and spare parts? 


Take a minute to assess your safety preparedness

  • Have you checked the weather forecast?
  • Are there any local hazards or boating restrictions?
  • Have you filed a sail plan to let someone know where you are going, when to expect you back and what your boat looks like?

Owners and operators of pleasure craft, including personal watercraft, should brief all guests and future operators about safe operation before heading out. Guests should be told where the safety equipment is kept and how to use it.

These are just a few of the things to consider before setting out. To be properly prepared, take a boating safety course. Doing so can better make you aware to the possible risks and dangers on the water.