Accidents can happen everywhere and when you are out on your boat there may very possibly be no one, but you to count on for help. So even on a short boating trip, you don’t want to get caught with your proverbial pants down; and it’s always a good idea to run through a pre-departure checklist before getting underway.
The first few things you want to take care of before you head out to sea are checking the forecast to make certain that seas and any upcoming weather are favorable AND letting someone on shore know where you are heading and when you expect to be back. It’s also a good idea if you have a second in command, so to speak, who also knows how to run your boat and how to get somewhere safe, just in case you are unable to do so.
Also make sure that everything mechanical on your boat is in excellent working condition, including your engine cut-off switch, bilge pump and plug and steering and throttle controls. You also want a fully charged battery and properly working lights. Check for leaks, cracks and any hose clamp issues. Speaking of hose clamps, it is always great if you have extra on hand, as well as extra fuses and a tool kit.
Then, of course, there is safety. Always have enough personal floatation devices on board for each passenger. A floatable ring with a securely attached rope is also good to have on hand, and it is required for any boat over 16 feet anyway. Check that you have all your mandatory safety equipment, including a fire extinguisher and a sound device. Additionally, although it is not required, it behooves you to place a first aid kit on your boat as well.