Summer has come, and you just bought an incredible new boat that you’re ready to take out for a fun first day on the water.
You probably have this unsettling feeling that you are forgetting something, though.
This is far from out of the normal as there is a lot that goes into boat ownership — from the boat maintenance to the paperwork, storage, and operation.
Here at Dripper Guard, we want to ensure that you are fully prepared for launch so that your first day out on the water is everything you hope it will be and more.
In order to help you ensure you don’t forget something essential, we’ve developed a comprehensive pre-launch checklist covering everything from the paperwork to the equipment you will need to guarantee smooth sailing on your first boating ventures of the season.
The Comprehensive Boat Launch Checklist
Check The Paperwork
There is always a possibility that you are breaking the law by towing out on the water or by being out on your boat in general if you don’t have the proper paperwork completed.
In order to certify everything is up to par with your boat, we recommend checking with the DMV website to see what paperwork and other necessities your state requires for boating.
No matter what state in which you may be boating, you must always have the following for your boat and trailer:
- Proper/valid title work
- Valid registration(s)
- Paid mandatory fees
- Paid mandatory taxes
These items are not always mandatory, but we recommend keeping them on hand as well:
- Valid driver’s license
- Your boat owner’s manual
- Your trailer owner’s manual
- Safe, waterproof container for all paperwork to avoid damage
Nothing ruins the day quite like a ticket — especially a fun day out on the water, so ensure that all of the items in this list are valid, up to date, and accessible.
Check Your Emergency Kit
Before embarking on your boating endeavors, it’s essential to first of all, have an emergency tool kit and first aid kit, and it’s also important to check that they contain everything that you could possibly need if any unfortunate yet plausible scenarios were to happen out on the water.
The following are some of the essential emergency boat items to have aboard your vessel:
- Jumper cables
- Waterproof flashlights
- Marine spotlights
- Screwdriver, wrench, hammer (basic toolkit)
- Fire extinguisher (check expiration date and workability)
- Medical supplies (basic first aid kit)
- Life vests for each person on board; check weight limits for each one
- Life vests for any animals on board
- Extra floating pillows and life rings
- Emergency ladder
- Inflatable boat for emergencies
- Tire inflator/pump/compressor
- Emergency dried food items
- Emergency survival blankets
- Towing ropes
- Bug repellent
- Extra towels
- Non-slip water shoes
If you find that you are missing a great deal of these items, it might be worth investing in a complete roadside emergency kit that supplies you with just about every tool and first aid item you could need.
While the water may be a fun and relaxing place to be, you never know what could happen, so it’s essential to plan ahead and be prepared. Your family and friends will thank you! Not to mention, some of them are required by law, so it’s important to not only ensure you have them, but they are in good working order.
Check Your Loose Boat Items
This may sound redundant, but it happens more commonly than we boaters would like to admit. You are all too excited to get out on the water, and you take off once you reach the buoys only to have your favorite pair of glasses, towels, or life vests go flying away into the water.
We hope you learn from our mistakes by checking that all of the following items are nice and secure before your boat launch:
- Boat cover (securely tightened or removed, folded, and stored)
- Coolers, grills, chairs, dog bowls and beds, food, drinks
- Umbrellas, awnings, canopies
- Floating pillows, throw cushions, life rings, life vests
- Recreational items (skis, inner tubes, etc.)
Check The Trailer
Besides getting pulled over, a flat tire is right up there at the top of the list as a potential day ruiner. Prevent this scenario with a quick trailer inspection before loading up the boat and heading to the docks.
- Check for any blemishes, bumps, slits or holes.
- Perform the ‘penny test’ to check your tread depth.
- Check your tire pressure. Tires shouldn’t be over or under inflated, so check your owner’s manual for the recommend pressure and ensure your pressure matches up precisely.
- Check your spare tire. You never know when you could need it!
Check The Boat
This is another factor to be certain you have up to par to avoid getting pulled over and getting a hefty ticket. So ensure the following lights are functional:
- All round light
- Stern light
Check to make sure you have each of these ropes and that they are not fraying or tearing. Don’t take any chances. If a rope looks as if it’s on its last days, replace it.
- Towing rope(s)
- Anchor rope(s)
- Docking rope(s)
Check The Boat Hull
The hull is one of the most vital aspects of your boat that hold everything together. You want to keep it in the most pristine condition possible or it can lead to costly boat maintenance and repairs. So check your boat hull for any of the following:
- Possible cracks
- Possible holes or gauges
- Any blemishes, knots, or bulges that may be concerning
Here’s our pro tip to keeping your boat hull in the best condition possible — order Dripper Guards!
Not only do our Dripper Guards protect your boat hull from corroding due to runoff water that attracts algae and barnacles, but they’re incredibly simple to install and will save you a fortune in boat hull cleaner and other boat maintenance costs that could occur over time without Dripper Guards in place.
Are all of your boat’s electrical systems safe and prepared for a day out on the water? Using your owner’s manual for your specific boat is a great tool for ensuring this. You can also refer to the internet to research the electrical components of your boat model. No matter how you go about certifying your boat’s parts are good to go, make sure to check each of these:
- Battery (never hurts to also have an extra)
- Check for any corrosion
- Check starters
- Check your boat engine
- If your boat’s already in the water, crank it to see if it’s running properly before launching.
- If it’s on land, do a flush test.
This has been Dripper Guard’s comprehensive checklist and guide for getting your boat ready for launch and a great summer on the water. Stay tuned for more boat maintenance tips, must have boat accessories, and other cool boat stuff!
If you haven’t yet gotten the most important of all small boat accessories — the Dripper Guard, order yours today to make keeping your boat hull clean simple, so you can spend less time cleaning your boat and more time enjoying it!