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Check List for Stepping Aboard a Boat

Besides the obvious signs of wear and neglect upon stepping aboard a boat. Here are the things you should check or know about a boat before heading offshore. Please feel free to print the checklist and take it with you on your next passage.

What you should be able to put your hands on:

  • Lifejackets & Safety Harnesses
  • EBIRB (Know how to activate it)
  • Ditch Bag (see "what to look for in an offshore boat")
  • Life raft and how to deploy
  • Emergency Steering (how to set up. Is there a special tool to get access to the steering quadrant? Where is it?)
  • Flashlights (keep at least one on deck at night)
  • Tools
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Duct Tape
  • Manual Bilge Pump Handles
  • Fog Horn
  • First Aid Kit
  • Spare Oil and Filters
  • Extra lashings and tie downs
  • Every Seacock (or at least know every location)
  • Wooden Plugs & Hammer
  • Engine Inlet and strainer: (Know how to clear the strainer)
  • Check Engine Fluids (Oil/Transmission)
  • How do the belts look?
  • Check liquid in the batteries.
  • Do you have spare filters and impellers?
  • Spare Jerry Jugs of fuel

On Deck:

  • A Knife
  • Check Turnbuckles
  • Check for chafe in furling return lines.
  • Check all Halyards are clear and secure.
  • How to launch the MOB
  • Make sure the anchor is very secure, but know how to deploy it quickly in an emergency.
  • Check Running Lights
  • Check Compass Light
  • (Do you have a backup light for the compass light?)
  • Flashlight on deck at night.

What you should know how to do:

  • Start (Stop) and operate the main engine
  • Reef the sails
  • Rig Jack lines
  • Understand the Electrical Panel
  • Operate the VHF or SSB in an emergency.
  • Operate Bilge pumps (both electrical and Manual)
  • Garbage Plan - What goes where (Besides an oil pollution placard many boats also require a garbage placard noting what can and what cannot be thrown overboard).
  • Rig Preventer
  • Release halyards

What to look out for:

  • Each other
  • The boom
  • Tripping on deck (one hand for you and one for the boat).
  • Don't block the helm when docking, underway in port or near busy channels
  • Placing things like open drinks on the counter.
  • Know not to turn the battery switch off with the engine is running.
  • Don't be afraid to tell the helmsman about anything ahead (Lobster pots, floating logs) or coming up from behind (faster/bigger boats).
  • When off watch make sure you get enough rest.
  • Make sure to take your seasickness medicine if you are prone.
  • Clean up after yourself in the head and galley.
  • Make sure to turn off the propane safety switch after using the stove.
  • If the boat policy is to keep the main water panel switch off when not in use, make sure it is off.