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Friday, March 15, 2013

Checklist for Leaving The Dock

Checklist for Leaving The Dock
Leaving The Dock - Courtesy flyfishingworldheadquarters.com

Leaving your home base is an important part of every boating expedition.  Every journey begins with a single step, and your first step – leaving the dock – is super important for setting the tone for the day.

Every boat is different, and therefore your gear and situation will differ from mine.  However, start with a guideline and build your own list from there.  It’s only important that you memorize and go through your list, in order, from start to finish, every time you cast off!

Here is my ‘Leaving-The-Dock List.’  If I forgot something, be sure to comment and let me know!

1.   Check the weather forecast – again, and again, and again.
2.   Check the tides.
3.   File a float plan with someone who cares about where you are.
4.   Walk around the boat – inspect for anything unusual.
5.   Enter the boat – unlock all doors, open hatches, look into compartments, inspect for anything unusual.
6.   Open seacocks, commission toilet.
7.   Open engine hatch – inspect hoses, fuel lines, batteries, clamps, use five senses to detect anything unusual (four senses – don’t taste anything).
8.   Test bilge pumps by lifting float switches.
9.   Check for all safety gear (whistle/horn, PFDs, throwable, flares, flashlights, fire extinguishers, boat hook, maintenance tools, etc. 
10.      Take down the canvas (this deserves an entire article in and of itself).
11.      Load all of the weekend’s worth of supplies onto the boat.
12.      Stow away all supplies in a safe, balanced AND SECURE place.
13.      Instruct the crew on any information necessary.
14.      Test all switches at circuit breaker for proper functioning.
15.      Turn breaker panel off, disconnect shore power.
16.      Test breaker switches/appliances that run off DC (battery) power.
17.      Run the blowers, or re-open the engine hatch, or both.
18.      Start the engine(s), allow to warm-up.
19.      Inspect the engine while running – look/listen/smell for anything unusual.
20.      Check the gauges: engine temperature, oil pressure, fuel and water gauges.
21.      Test the trim tabs and outdrive trim – inspect propeller for debris.
22.      While still tied to the dock, test forward and reverse gear.
23.      In neutral, test the throttle response.
24.      Turn radio on – perform a radio check.
25.      Check the weather again.
26.      Check the current wind and tide for exiting the slip.
27.      Check for any obstructions in the water or other boats nearby.
28.      Cast off the lines.
29.      Have fun!


Obviously, trailer boats will have a modified version of this list, and there are many great resources online (including videos) that will show you how to trailer your vessel to and from the water.  Although it may seem like a lot, in fact it’s easy to develop a routine.  So, what does your routine look like?  Bon voyage!
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