Does Your Boat Have What it Needs?

Make sure your boat has what it needs and not what it shouldn’t, to make your trips safe and fun. Doing this one job as soon as your boat goes in the water could save you gas money, keep you safe, and make your boating more enjoyable.

Be sure to …

take inventory of what’s aboard from last season and what items you need to bring from storage, replenish from home and/or purchase. We’ve done this for decades and it works.

It’s a good idea to have a complete check list of your inventory so that you can check off the items you have and make note of what you need to bring from various locations. You don’t want to miss or overlook anything. If you don’t have a list, consider making one to use this year and next. It will make it so much easier next year.

Make a checklist of everything you need to have on your boat. Use this checklist every Spring. Each time you use it, make it a more complete checklist. This will make inventorying your boat faster and easier…and because the checklist is on paper and not in your head, it becomes a task you can delegate. 

No two boats and no two Boaters are the same. Depending on the size and type of your boat as well as what kind of boating activities you do, your list may vary significantly from other boaters.

Following are some suggestions of areas and items for your check list:

  1. Check the helm for electronics, charts, binoculars etc. Check the cockpit seats and storage areas for buckets, mops and cleaning supplies.
  2. Make sure you have the necessary safety equipment for your size and type of boat— fire extinguishers, flares, jackets, flashlight, bailing bucket, bilge pump, horn, ring buoy, heaving line, flares and other safety equipment. Notonly is it law to have the required safety equipment for your boat, but it is also common sense to have it in case you need it. It is safer for you and your crew.
  3. Check the galley for cutlery, dishes, pots and pans etc. Make sure you have everything you need for your style of boating so that you don’t get caught in the middle of a meal and not have a corkscrew for the wine or a can opener for the beans. Make note of or remove any old food, soap etc. from last year. 
  4. Check the head for head chemical, cleaning supplies etc.
  5. Check the sleeping area for bedding, clothes etc.
  6. Check your supply of bug repellent, fly swatters, rain gear and netting.
  7. Check you canvas. Are all the pieces accounted for?
  8. Check the engine compartment for your supply of oil, spare parts and tools. 
  9. Sailors need to also check their inventory and condition of sails, running rigging, standing rigging, blocks, winches, etc.
  10. Fishermen would pay close attention to their supply of fishing gear.
  11. The cruising crowd would check anchors, anchor lines, ice chests and other equipment and supplies related to traveling.
  12. Cottagers should ensure they have ski ropes, skis, boards, extra lines and bungies for securing loads, etc.
  13. For boaters who trailer their boats everywhere they go, important items to inventory are trailering supplies like tie downs, spare lights, wiring, trailer ball etc.

Boaters who endure a long cold winter have a tradition of stripping their boats at the end of the boating season and then restocking them at the beginning of the next boating season. There are great advantages to this ritual come Spring:

  • Maximizes space by purging and thinning out items that are not really needed aboard.
  • Decreases your fuel consumption and cost by getting rid of excess weight (like an extra case of oil).
  • Avoids frustrations and problems created by missed or misplaced items when you take inventory and know what you have onboard.
  • Enjoy your limited boating time more because there won’t be any bothersome missed details.

So, this week, make sure you have an Inventory checklist for your boat–AND USE IT!

Happy Boating,

Brenda and Doug Dawson




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