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pre departure checklist
water sense
playing safe on water
avoiding tugs & barges
fog at sea
distress signals at sea
sitting out a hurricane
holing up for a hurricane
heavy weather sailing
fire on board
towing and salvage
US salvage contract


pre-departure checklist

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
  • At least one Coast Guard approved device per passenger and a minimum of two on board.
  • An additional throwable device is required if the vessel is more than 16 feet long.
  • Explain the location and use of all PFDs to passengers and crew that may be new to the vessel.
  • Sound Producing Devices (Whistle)
  • Must have a horn capable of producing a four-second blast audible for at least 1/2 mile.
  • If a portable air horn, have a spare can of air or an alternate device.
  • Lights and Shapes
  • All navigation lights as required.
  • Instrumental lights working.
  • If you intend to engage in an activity that requires a day shape, have the required shapes.
  • Flashlight on-board.
  • Distress Signals
  • Accessible flares, day signals, etc., stored in a dry location.
  • Carry signals at all times even if not required by the Coast Guard.
  • Inform the crew and passengers of their location and their use.
  • Tools and Spares
  • Basic tool box on-board.
  • Box of spares aboard, e.g., fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through hull plugs, etc.
  • Ventilation
  • On any powered vessel or auxiliary powered sailboat, or vessels using LPG for cooking or heat, check that all interior spaces are well ventilated before departure.
  • If fuel smells are detected before ventilating, check after running the blowers for several minutes before starting.
  • If odour persists, stop and look for the source of the leak.
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Accessible fire extinguisher. Do you have at least those required by your coast guard authority.?
  • Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure.
  • Take the time to point out locations to passengers and crew.
  • Fuel and Oil
  • Are your tanks topped-off?
  • If not, have enough fuel to provide a reasonable margin of safety for your return.
  • Check the engine oil and coolant level.
  • Bilges
  • Check to be sure bilges are reasonably dry and that pumps are not running excessively.
  • Clean up any spilled oil or waste in bilges so as to prevent overboard discharge.
  • Battery Care
  • If you have a duel charging system, is the selector switch in the proper position?
  • Is the power on to the entire vessel?
  • Spare batteries for accessories such as a handheld radio, flashlight, portable navigational aid, etc.
  • If they are rechargeable, are they charged?
  • Weather Forecast
  • Did you check the weather forecast?
  • Radio on board to receive weather updates.
  • Docking and Anchoring
  • At least one anchor set up and bent-on to your anchor line.
  • Two or three extra dock lines in case of unusual conditions dockside.
  • Visually inspect the lines you use for chafe or wear.
  • At least two fenders on-board for docking or towing if required.
  • Documentation
  • Have the ship's papers, radio license, etc. on board.
  • Have the chart or charts for the area you intend to cruise in, regardless of your level of local knowledge.