Pre-departure checks


  • To check items that will promote a safe voyage


  • The Master is responsible for verifying that this procedure is followed


Step Pre-departure Checks – version 1
1 Compare the current weather conditions to the forecast? Does it look like the forecast is accurate? Does the forecast allow for arrival without risk of bad weather?

Did you give a responsible person ashore a sail plan and report the number of persons on board?

(Note: A sail plan is not required for regularly scheduled voyages)

3 Check the fuel level and drain water from the tank.
4 Turn navigation lights on and conduct a walk-around to check that:
  • liferaft, life jackets and other safety equipment are in place;
  • navigation lights are working;
  • drainage plugs are in place and tight;
  • bilge pumps are free of debris and work;
  • fluid levels are correct – oil, battery, coolant;
  • there is no sign of oil or water leakage; and 
  • first aid kit, tools and spare parts are where they should be
5 Turn on radio (or other communication device) and conduct test transmission to confirm it is working. (For vessels that must have a VHF radio - watch must begin 15 minutes before departure and be maintained until moored) Make a note of the time the test was carried out in the radio communications log.
6 Check the compass is pointing the right way (how else do you check?)
7 Confirm charts of the operating area with any applicable chart corrections indicated and the sound-signalling device/appliance are at hand
8 Mentally or physically plot course required to avoid local hazards or boating restrictions
9 Confirm that all the crew required for the number of passengers and intended voyage present
10 Count passengers
11 Confirm there are enough lifejackets of appropriate size for everyone on board, including children
12 Advise shore operations how many persons, including crew, are on board
13 Carry out pre-departure safety briefing
Step Pre-departure Checks – version 2
1 Check the weather forecast. Confirm that the conditions match the forecast. If poor weather is forecast, make plans that will reduce risk of incident.
2 Consider the planned route for the voyage and mentally note any local hazards or boating restrictions.
3 Verify there is enough fuel for the voyage, including a reserve in case of trouble, and drain water from the tank.
4 Check other fluid levels – oil, coolant, battery, etc. – and visually inspect hoses and belts.
5 Check for signs of oil and water leaks in the engine compartment and in the hold.
6 Confirm that bilge pumps will work.
7 Check that drain plugs are securely in place.
8 Visually inspect life rafts and lashings.
9 Check that fire extinguishers and other fire fighting equipment are in place.
10 Pull out all charts needed for the voyage, with applicable corrections indicated, to make sure they are onboard, then put back in place.
11 Check that the first aid kit, spare tools and spare parts are where they should be.
12 Confirm that the battery charge indicator reading is normal.
13 Check that the compass and other navigational equipment is working properly.
14 Turn on radio 15 minutes before departure and begin monitoring.
15 Make a test call to confirm you can transmit. Check other communication equipment is operational.
16 Turn navigation lights on and check they are working. Turn off again if not needed at the moment.
17 Count the number of people onboard and that you have enough lifejackets of the right size for everyone, including crew.
18 Call shore base to report number of persons on board and voyage details – route and expected return time (unless on a regular schedule and route)



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