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Marine Safety

Safety Selecting a Life Jacket
Shop Safety Safe Boating Checklist

Download this Safe Boating Checklist .pdf File


1. Check weather report and tides/currents
2. File a float plan with someone you know, and share the following info:

  • Where you’re going
  • When you intend to return
  • What to do if you donʼt
3. Provide any non-swimmers aboard with fitted life jackets while on the water
4. Identify the second-in-command in case the skipper is incapacitated
5. Identify the location and test the operation of the following Coast Guard-required safety items: 6. Identify the location and test the operation of the following recommended gear if fitted: 7. Describe engine shutdown technique
8. Check bilges and pump until dry if water is present
9. Prior to starting the engine:
  • If the boat has a gasoline inboard, run its blower for at least four minutes
  • Check lubricating oil
  • Check fuel level
  • Make sure buzzers sound on the engine panel
10. After the engine is started
  • Check for signs of cooling water flow and check for oil pressure
  • Attach kill switch lanyard if fitted
11. Disconnect shore power cable
12. Upon leaving the harbor, store a “go home” waypoint on the GPS

While on the water:

1. Drink responsibly, especially if you are the skipper
2. Be aware of the weather, and its potential changes

  • Use the weather channels on your VHF radio
  • Watch for changes in wind speed and cloud formations
3. Know where the nearest harbor or protected anchorage is
4. Monitor fuel consumption and remaining range
  • Use the “Three Thirds Rule”—one third outbound, one third inbound, one third reserve
5. Monitor VHF radio Channel 16 for emergency traffic
  • Be prepared to lend assistance if you are the nearest vessel
6. Know the waters you are navigating
  • Refer to local charts
  • Stay within marked channels
  • Beconscious of tides and currents

When you return to the dock make sure:

1. The boat is moored correctly with bow, stern, spring lines and fenders

2. Pump your holding tank and add holding tank treatment
3. Main battery switch is off 4. Shore power cable is attached and protected from chafe 5. Logbook has been filled out, signed, and dated
6. Close your float plan by calling the person you originally contacted

This checklist was created by West Marine as a public service. We practice and encourage safe boating and seamanship.