Who Is Responsible For Reviewing A Pre-Departure Checklist Before A Boat Outing?

In this post, we’re going to talk about who is responsible for reviewing a pre-departure checklist before a boat outing and all the things you need to have on that list.

A lot of boat owners don’t bother about the pre-departure checklist before going for an outing, it has a lot of benefits, some aren’t even aware of who should review the pre-departure checklist.

It ensures that you have all the safety equipment on the boat that will prepare you for emergencies and you’ll know some things about your boat, especially for the newbie driver.

Who Is Responsible For Reviewing A Pre-Departure Checklist Before Going For Boat Outing?

Who Is Responsible For Reviewing A Pre-Departure Checklist Before Going For Boat Outing?

Instructor, operator, or skipper are responsible to review the pre-departure checklist before going for an outing with your boat. You just want to make sure they know what they’re doing and they have some experience in the field.

They ensure that all the compliance and precautions are followed by passengers before the boat starts moving. Reviewing the pre-departure checklist shouldn’t be avoided at all costs especially when you’re sailing the ocean.

The Primary Reason Behind Pre-Departure Checks

The main purpose of the pre-departure checks is to make sure everyone is safe on the boat and that everyone enjoys a good boating experience while sailing.

It’s the responsibility of the boaters to have everything in place before they begin their journey. Pre-departure checks will help reduce the risks of breakdowns and accidents while boating, the passengers will be ready for unexpected situations.

The boat can break down at any moment and with the right tools and procedures, they can tackle them with ease and without much damage or injuries. It takes only a few minutes to perform the pre-departure checks and yet many ignore it.

Let’s now take a look at the necessary pre-departure checks that need to be performed before sailing, they’ll be grouped under different categories.


  1. First check with NOAA – (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the (Weather Radio marine forecast) before sailing. You want to make sure the weather is ok and safe to go out boating, some weather conditions aren’t safe for boating especially at the sea.
  2. If there is rain or fog approaching, you should delay or postpone your trip. NOAA can guide you on this if you’re not sure, if there is also a significant drop in temperature, you need to delay the trip also.
  3. You should come with a handheld radio that will keep you updated regarding the weather or if you can use apps on your phone, it might be sufficient.

First Aid And Toolbox

  1. The toolbox should contain spare parts, fuses, lamps, fuel filters, and other equipment that can be easily damaged. Your instructor can guide you on this.
  2. Then you should have a first aid kit, you should have things like Antibiotics, pain killers, bandages, and more. If among the passengers there is someone with medical conditions, they should come with their medications as well.

Ventilation Equipment

  1. Check carbon monoxide routines and ensure that there are ventilated outlets, you know how dangerous this gas is, you should make sure it has its own exit to avoid getting inhaled by passengers.
  2. Before you start the engine, you should first run the ventilation blowers for five minutes.
  3. If you notice any smell of fuel, exhaust, or fume, you should trace the source and ensure it’s fixed before you start the engine. This will help you avoid fire breaks.

Batteries And Fuel

  1. Oil levels and coolant levels must be checked to ensure they’re sufficient for the trip before take-off.
  2. All batteries must be charged full and make sure they’re tested if you haven’t used the boat for some time.
  3. Battery-powered equipment should be checked to ensure they’re working before boating.
  4. Even if your batteries are working, you need to have a spare that’s available for handheld accessories like GPS, Flashlights, Radio, and more.
  5. In the event that your battery is using a dual charging function, make sure the selector is switched properly in the right position.

Fire Extinguishers

  1. Boat fires can arise unexpectedly, and the most important tool you need is fire extinguishers. You need to have at least one or two standard fire extinguishers that are approved by the U.S-Coast.
  2. Every passenger on the boat should know how to use the fire extinguisher mounted on the boat.
  3. Make sure the fire extinguisher is properly mounted in all important locations on the boat.
  4. Make sure automatic extinguishing systems are working; check them before boating. Every boat comes with automatic extinguishing systems, they’re capable of detecting smoke and will switch on automatically to respond to fire outbreaks. They’re mostly placed in the engine room and also in the kitchen, your boat manual should guide you on where they’re located.

Personal Flotation Devices

  1. There should be life jackets available for each passenger on the boat.
  2. Boats that are over sixteen feet long should have one or more throwable PFD boats in case of emergencies.
  3. All passengers should be educated on how to wear life jackets.
  4. There should be 2-USCG-approved spare life jackets on the boat and with whistles attached to them.

Light And Sound Signaling Devices

  1. You need to have two or more signaling devices like a whistle, bell, or air horn on your boat. You’ll use them to send signals when your boat is in danger or when the rescue team is searching for your boat. The air horn should have a 4-second blast so that it can be heard for half a mile at minimum.
  2. Ensure to have signaling lights and proper navigation, there should also be emergency distress signals such as electric distress lights or signal flags.
  3. All passengers and boat crew should know how to use flares and distress signals.

Boat Condition

  1. Check the boat’s hull to ensure no cracks or damage.
  2. Inspect the throttle and steering to make sure they’re working properly.
  3. Make sure engine shut-off lines are working properly.
  4. Captain’s console should be fully operational.
  5. Check electrical and cooling systems to ensure they’re also working.
  6. Make sure there are no fuel leaks from fuel lines, tanks, and carburetors.
  7. Change the water filter, oil filter, or spark plugs if required.
  8. Hose clamps shouldn’t have cracks or leaks.
  9. Ensure that the drainage plug is drained and secured before boating.


  1. You should come with all the necessary documents that are tied to the boat, this includes; registration papers, fishing permits if applicable, radio licenses, and any other document that will be relevant during your journey.
  2. The boat operator should come with proof of competency documents like the “Pleasure Craft Operator Card” and so on.
  3. Come along with a map that can be used when GPS dies or the radio signal is lost.
  4. Also, come with a local chart to monitor local hazards or water levels and tides.

General Preparations

  1. Make sure there is no overload, don’t boat too many people, and avoid carrying excess luggage. Check the weight limit inside the user manual and also check water levels.
  2. All safety equipment should be within your reach, don’t lock them in any compartment.
  3. Brief all your passengers on safety measures before you start the engine, all proper procedures should be mentioned.
  4. Take the float plan with one of your passengers to help you with navigation.

Recommended Equipment

  1. Cellular phone.
  2. Magnetic compass.
  3. VHF marine radio.
  4. Sunscreen should be SPF 30+.
  5. Alternate propulsion.
  6. Manual bilge pump or bailing device.

Read Also: Who Is Responsible For Performing The Pre-Departure Check Of A Recreational Boat?

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