Before leaving port, every boater needs to make sure his or her boat is ready to go. Before you depart, you should check these 6 things in order to have a safe and pleasant journey.
- Make sure the drain plug is secure. The drain plug is small screw on the stern of the hull below the water line. It is there to allow water to drain out of the hull when on land. If you are putting your boat in the water, make sure the plug is securely on. If not, your boat will take on water when you put it in the water. This can lead to serious damage as the engine could submerge and be ruined, or your boat could sink. Even if you correct the problem right away, it can be embarrassing if others are watching.
- Sufficient number of life jackets. As I said in an earlier post, it is critical that you have enough lifejackets for every person on your boat. If you are pulled over the by Coast Guard, you could face fines and lives could be at risk you get in an emergency situation.
- Check the forecast. I cannot stress this enough. Bad conditions on the water are extremely dangerous and won’t make for a pleasant journey. Even if the weather is nice right before you depart, that does not mean the weather will last
- The Tide Schedule. Tides are very important because if ignored, you could run aground or have your boat beached for several hours. Currents are also dictated by tides, so if the tide is going in or out when you are leaving your harbor, it could cause some tricky navigation.
- Check your engine oil and fuel. Most boats do not have indicators about engine oil, so make sure you check it manually before departing. Even if you have oil on board. Adding oil away from the dock is difficult because it often requires the removal of the engine cap. Also make sure you have sufficient fuel for you journey because gas docks are not widely available.
- Check the depth finder. Ensure you depth finder is working as it is a key piece of equipment on your boat. It is very important to know your depth at all times, especially when close to shore.