Pre-Departure and Boat Launch Checklist

A Quick Pre-Trip Checklist for Your Boat

Before you head out onto the water, it’s important to complete a short boat launch checklist prior to every launch. This ensures you have everything you need and your boat is ready for a day at sea. This pre-departure check is similar to what you’d do when checking over your car or truck before a short trip. This whole checklist should take no longer than 20 minutes if everything is ready to go from your last launch. boat launch checklist PDF

If you’re trailering your boat back to the water, it’s a good idea to give the trailer itself a quick check

  • Check trailer tires for pressure and refill if needed
  • Check tongue latch and coupling
  • Check trailer brake fluid level
  • Check trailer lights and replace as needed
  • Check the padding and rollers


DocumentsBoating documents
Before heading out, make sure all your important documents are on board

  • Check for boaters’ license
  • Check for ship’s papers
  • Check for fishing licenses on board
  • Put any required documents on display
  • Have your wallet on hand with credit card and ID info

Safety Equipment and Gear
Up-to-date safety equipment is so important for fun and safety on the water. Safety inspections are always available with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron (CPS-ECP)

  • Check flares for expiry dates
  • Check lifejackets and make sure there are enough for everyone on board
  • Check radio to make sure it works. Replace batteries or charge if needed
  • Check fire and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check fire extinguishers

Navigation equipment should be checked and properly calibrated before every single trip, even just a short trip

  • Check the navigation lights
  • Check the compass to make sure it’s properly calibrated
  • Ensure you have all necessary maps and charts
  • Check the GPS and make sure it’s working

Anchors, Lines and Ropes
All mooring and anchoring equipment should be clean and easy to reach

  • Is anchor securely fastened with proper knots?
  • Is there any damage to the anchor?
  • Make sure there’s enough line to be able to easily throw out anchor and moor 
  • Make sure there is extra line in case of emergency
  • Check the knots in the line
  • Check for any damage to the line


Engine and Fuel System
The heart of your boat, you won’t get very far without the engine! If you notice any strange noises or smoke, contact a boat mechanic for assistance

  • Fill fuel tank
  • Run the engine and listen for any trouble
  • Check fuel lines for any leaks or damage
  • Check that all fittings are tightened
  • Check that exhaust, engine and ventilation systems are in good shape
  • Run the engine and check for smoke
  • Check transom mounts (outboard)

Fluid Levels
Topped-up fluids will keep your steering system and engine working hard. Always check and top up your boat’s fluids

  • Check coolant
  • Check engine oil
  • Check power steering fluid
  • Check power trim reservoirs
  • Check coolant levels


As boaters, we rely heavily on electrical equipment for a safe and comfortable experience. Take a few minutes to check each of the electrical components.

  • Check all connections for corrosion and cleanliness
  • Remove battery terminals, clean connections with wire brush
  • Check the battery is charged. Replace if needed
  • Test the generator on full tilt
  • Check interior and exterior lights
  • Check navigational equipment (GPS)
  • Check electrical box
  • Check HVAC and / or air conditioner while running on hot and cold

Always check to make sure the bilge is in good shape and the drain plug is secure.

  • Make sure the bilge is drained of excess water and free of fumes
  • Check for any plugged intakes
  • Check to make sure the bilge pump is working
  • Check to make sure a spare drain plug is on board


Check all interior and exterior lights to make sure you’ll never be left in the dark

  • Check safety lights 
  • Check lights in cabin and head (if applicable)
  • Double-check navigation lights and emergency lights
  • Check lights in livewells


If you see any marks or chips, this could affect your propeller’s performance.  If in doubt, talk to a pro about repair or replacement

  • Check all propellers for any damage
  • Make sure propellers are secure and replace bearings if needed


The cabin is your home away from home, particularly on multi-day trips. Take a few minutes to check lighting, appliances and water, to ensure a relaxing trip

  • Check for water pressure and quality
  • Check for leaks in fridge
  • Check temperature in fridge / freezer
  • Test the appliances
  • Check TV, speakers and any other extras


At Van Isle Marina, we offer moorage with annual, monthly and guest options. Conveniently located in sunny Sidney, BC, moorage with us is just moments from countless destinations. With amenities like storage locker, car parking, and a full-service marine fueling station and dock store, you’ll find everything you could need to outfit your boat and get ready for your trip. Come and see us, or request services/moorage information today.