Coast Guard Boating Safety Checklist For All Boats


Every boating trip offers a different experience. Just because everything ran smoothly last time doesn’t mean things will be the same next time. You should therefore take basic precautions before heading out.

Also, remember this – not every person who rides a boat, kayak, canoe, or any other watercraft has the same experience level as you. With all the dangers present on the water, it is very easy for accidents and the unexpected to happen if safety precautions are overlooked.

Tips For Safe Boating

This coast guard boating safety checklist will help you remember critical items before your head out at the ocean, while you are out there, and when you return.

It’s true, we try our best to stay safe on the water but sometimes we forget to bring crucial equipment or follow the most important steps to keep us out of harm. So, here is all you need to know about boating safety and the equipment you need to stay out of danger. Ready?

1. Check The Atmospheric Conditions

Find out what kind of weather you are likely to encounter. Your smartphone will be a great source of this information. Make use of the weather apps installed or even google a couple of websites to know exactly what you will be dealing with. You can also use an AM/FM radio to listen to what the local weatherman says.

2. Tell Someone

Let your friends or family members know about your trip, what watercraft you will be using as well as when you plan to depart and come back. The best way to do this is to file a float plan with these details. That way, even if something happens and you aren’t able to return on the promised date, your loved ones will have all the information they need to provide to the rescue agencies.

3. Know The People In Your Boat

If you will be taking a group of people with you, identify those who can and cannot swim. Give non-swimmers some life jackets and have them put them on before you start sailing.

It would also be wise to appoint a second in command, just in case you become incapacitated. Just make sure they know where all the important equipment like VHF radio and towline is and can perform basic functions like refilling the boat’s fuel tank, turning the engine on and off, or signaling for safety.

4. Have The Equipment Where It Should Be


Apart from including the right equipment in your coast guard boat safety checklist, make sure it is where it needs to be. For instance, life jackets should be easily accessible. The best way to ensure this? Have everyone on board put theirs on. Non- swimmers and children below 13 years should have their jackets on when the vessel is underway.

On a trip like this, you will also need a tossable floatation device easily accessible. In case someone falls overboard, you can easily throw it to them to help them stay afloat.

A single extinguisher will also meet the coast guard boat safety requirements if you are sailing a small boat, but for larger boats, one is really not enough. You will need at least three for adequate safety – one in the front cabin, another one in the gallery section, and one near the cockpit.

Additionally, you will need to have both day and night distress signals. These include flags, launchers, hand flares, and pyrotechnic orange smoke. You can put these in a dry bag or waterproof container to keep them free of water.

Though not mandatory, it would also be a great idea to include a VHF radio, marine GPS, towline, and personal locator beacon in a coast guard boat safety checklist. A boat anchor that is ready to go won’t hurt too.

Last yet importantly, even if you plan to take only a few hours on the water, check to see that your navigation lights are functional. Sometimes the trip may take longer than anticipated, and to stay safe, you will have to display your lights between evening and dawn. Also, check to see that every item onboard works as required. If you have any faulty equipment, have it fixed or replaced before you go.

5. Drink Responsibly

Once you have started sailing, drink responsibly. If you are the captain, there will probably be no drinking for you at all. Oh yeah, this is one of the boating drinking laws you need to observe while out there. Boating Under Influence; anyone?

Keep an eye on the consumption of your crewmembers too. You want to make sure that they are not overindulging.

6. Be Aware Of The Surrounding

Look around for other boaters and watch out for distress signals. Keep your VHF radio on so you can listen to calls to your boat and distress calls from other boaters.

Also, check any changes in weather. For instance, look at the clouds to see if there are any signs of rain. Monitor the speed of the wind and keep track of water currents and tides. If you feel the conditions are getting unfavorable for the sail, look for a safe anchorage.

7. Once You Are Back

If you had filed a float plan with someone before you leave and are back safely, make sure to give them a call to close the float plan. You really don’t want them looking for someone who isn’t lost.

Globo Surf Overview

Using a coast guard boat safety checklist can make your boating experience even much safer by reminding you of the most important items to bring on board and steps to follow to stay out of danger.

The above checklist is easy to remember and will always make sure you are prepared before you set out to the waters. Keep it handy when going for a boat party or planning an overnight kayaking trip and you will have an enjoyable and safe experience. Hey, you can also share it with your friends and other boating enthusiasts to keep them informed so they are never caught unprepared.

More Boat Reviews:


  1. Did You Remember? – Equipment Checklist,
  2. Adventures in Boating Washington Handbook,
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!