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Boater's Pre-Departure Checklist

Know your vessel. Before departure, always be sure your vessel is in good working condition and properly equipped for emergencies. Avoid inconvenience and potential danger by taking a few minutes to check the following:

Minimum Federal Required Equipment Yes No
State Registration Documentation    
State Numbering Displayed    
Certificate of Documentation    
Lifejackets (PFDs) - one for each person    
Throwable PFD    
Visual Distress Signals    
Fire Extinguishers (fully charged)    
Proper Ventilation    
Backfire Flame Arrestor    
Sound Producing Device(s)    
Navigation lights    
Oil Pollution Placard    
Garbage Placard    
Marine Sanitation Device    
Navigation rules    
Any Additional State Requirements    

Besides meeting the federal requirements, prudent boaters carry additional safety equipment. The following additional items are suggested depending on the size, location and use of your boat:

Recommended Equipment Yes No N/A
VHF Marine Radio      
Anchor and Tackle      
Chart(s) of Area & Navigation Tools      
Magnetic Compass      
Fenders and Boat Hook      
Mooring Lines and Heaving line      
Manual Bilge Pump or Bailing Device      
Tool Kit      
Spare Parts (fuses, spark plugs, belts, etc)      
Spare Battery (fully charged)      
Spare Propeller      
Extra Fuel & Oil      
Alternate Propulsion (paddles/oar)      
Flashlight & Batteries      
Search Light      
First Aid Kit      
Sunscreen (SPF 30+)      
Food and Water      
Extra Clothing      
AM - FM Radio      
Cellular Phone      


Safety Checks and Tests Yes No N/A
Test Marine Radio (voice call)      
Test Navigation and Anchor Lights      
Test Steering (free movement)      
Test Tilt / Trim      
Test Bilge Pump      
Check for any excessive water in bilges      
Check Fuel System for any leaks      
Check Engine Fluids      
Ensure Boat Plug is properly installed      
Check Electrical System      
Check Galley / Heating Systems      
Check Gauges (i.e. batteries)      
Check Fuel Amount      
Ensure Anchor is ready for use      
Check load of vessel and secure gear from shifting      
Ensure passengers know Emergency Procedures and Equipment Location      
Everyone put on a Lifejacket to check for proper fitting.      
Check the Weather Forecast      
File a Float Plan with family or friend      

Download a printable pdf of the pre-departure checklist.

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