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Your ‘Must Do’ Boating Checklist Before Heading Out

As we get excited to start warm weather boating season in the US, don’t be in such a hurry that the first day back on the water is a catastrophe!  Take a few minutes to run through this checklist and you will save yourself hours of headaches and make certain you can enjoy the day boating.


  1. Inspect all your rubber hoses and make sure hose clamps are secure. Make certain all hoses that exit the boat below the waterline are double clamped. Don’t skimp, use stainless steel. Inspect all hoses for stiffness, rot, leaks and cracking, and replace any that are faulty. Make sure they fit snugly.
  2. If equipped, inspect, lubricate and exercise seacocks.
  3. Inspect your fuel system; hoses, pumps, tanks. Make sure fuel is clean and contains no water. Make sure fuel vent hoses are free of clogs from winter bug nesting and engine room exhaust fans work if equipped.
  4. Inspect your battery and connections. Fill wet cells. Make sure batteries are fully charged.
  5. Check running lights, anchor lights
  6. On outboards and sterndrives; inspect the props for dings, pitting or distortion. Check cotter pins.
    • Inspect drive and cable boots, control cables, outdrive bellows
  7. Does your oil need to be changed before the season starts?
  8. For inboard; inspect the propeller shaft, stuffing box and seals. If possible, check cutlass bearings.
  9. Move the helm from stop to stop. Does the rudder or engine move freely?
  10. Inspect and test the bilge pumps and float switches.
  11. Inspect joints and seams that may need re-caulking or sealing
  12. Inspect all deck hardware to ensure it’s properly secure
  13. Inspect all your dock lines for chafe and wear
  14. Inspect your anchor, chain, and rode as necessary
  15. If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.
  16. Check your safety equipment:
    • Life jackets on board, correct size, throwable cushion present?
    • Inspect fire extinguishers.
    • Test smoke, carbon monoxide, fume and bilge alarms.
    • Check running lights for operation and spare bulb inventory.
    • Replenish First Aid Kits and check for expired items
  17. Check VHF radios is so equipped
  18. Check charts or chart software for updates
  19. Get your paperwork together; Registration, insurance, trailer tags up to date? etc.

Sailboats add the following; 

  1. Inspect all rigging.
  2. Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for any cable fraying or rust and adjust as necessary.
  3. Inspect chainplates and turnbuckles
  4. Handle all lines to ensure blocks run smooth, lines aren’t frayed, worn, or rotted.


This is just a brief reminder to double check all those important items before you head out. It’s not all inclusive, but it’s meant to get you thinking about what needs to be done so you don’t have to think about it later. Feel free to add comments and suggestions below.


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Your ‘Must Do’ Boating Checklist Before Heading Out

Your ‘Must Do’ Boating Checklist Before Heading Out

My father helped me restore an old wooden boat when I was in Junior High School, then taught me how to sail it. I was hooked forever. The other gift he provided was a love of cooking, which I've tried to build upon over the years. I've spent most of my life owning a boat of some kind or another from dinghy's to larger sailing and motor vessels. I enjoy sharing my love of water and my love of cooking with fellow travelers who have a like-mindedness. I believe life is difficult enough, so why not help lift others up whenever possible; share a smile and a good story every now and then.

M/V DreamChaser 40ft Marine Trader Sundeck

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