If you are going on a long journey on your boat, particularly on a smaller boat, you need to prepare for the worst.
Follow this pre-departure checklist for guidance:
- To make sure your small boat is going to be safe on the sea and that all essentials are on board, do a 15 minutes quick inspection before departing.
- Check the operating condition of your boat including: steering, motor, hoses, battery, bilge, clamps, pumps, wiring, fuel tanks, lines, float switches, and lights.
- Make sure you have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket of the appropriate size and type for you and every passenger (and make sure they are actually being worn!)
- If your boat is greater than 16-feet in length, make sure you have a Coast Guard approved flotation device – for example buoyant cushion, ring buoy, or horseshoe buoy (kayaks and canoes are exempted from this requirement).
- Check for other safety equipment appropriate to the size of your boat and the area where it will be operating, such as flashlight, tool kit, first-aid kit and sunscreen, paddles, oars, binoculars, anchor and anchor line, fire extinguisher, spare battery, visual distress signals, charts of the local area, and a VHF-FM marine radio.
- Check the capacity plate or calculate the maximum load to make sure you don’t overload the boat with passengers and gear.
Davis Law Group recommends downloading a Pre-Departure Checklist from the U.S. Coast Guard at: