Routine: A prescribed, detailed course of action to be followed regularly; a standard procedure. When preparing for a day on the water, routine can be your best friend. Before a routine becomes habit, a detailed list is an invaluable tool. I have assembled a set of lists to guide you along the way to a safe and productive outing. This aren’t lists to remind you to bring rods, tackle, attractant, etc, but more so lists of safety related items that should be religiously checked before each outing until it becomes second nature, and the lists are no longer needed.
We are creatures of habit so molding a positive habit when dealing with the water is a survival essential, and a good lesson to be passed on. Include your kids in safety checks!! Keep them involved and explain what each thing does, and why it needs to be checked each and every time it’s used.
This is the collective list. Below this is a list for the “night before” as many of the items on the primary list will be stowed aboard for the season.

  • Alternate propulsion (i.e. paddle or oar)
  • Anchors & Line
  • Batteries (fully charged and encased in plastic boxes)
  • Bilge device (bilge pump operable, alternative bailing device)
  • Boat lights
  • Bright flashlight or searchlight
  • Boat & trailer registration, permits, licenses
  • Bug repellant
  • Clothing
  • Compass
  • Drinking water (1 gallon per person, per day)
  • Fire extinguisher (right number, size, and class for boat; charged, not corroded, nozzle clear, bracketed, readily accessible)
  • First aid kit i.e. Band-Aids, first-aid Cream, Campo-Phenique (good for minor burns, cuts and scrapes), Tums, lip balm.
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Kill switch (check with motor started)
  • Map/Charts (in waterproof container)
  • Matches/fire starter (in waterproof container)
  • Navigation lights & spare bulbs
  • Boat plug
  • Pocket knife
  • Sound producing device (i.e. whistle, horn)
  • Spare trailer tire (check condition)
  • Toilet paper
  • Trailer lights (and brakes if applicable)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Spare prop and lock-nut or shear pin
  • Weather radio
  • Tools
  • Visual distress signals (check current dates on flares, proper number)
  • Watch or clock

Night before list-

  • Hook up trailer and check lights and brakes (if applicable)
  • Charge batteries
  • Check fuel
  • Check boat lights
  • Turn on batteries, “check 1, 2, all switch” make sure it is functioning
  • Turn on and check all electronics
  • Check boat plug
  • Secure straps and tie downs

Feel free to modify these lists according to your needs. I encourage you to laminate them and keep them in a consistent place. Adding another list of your own to this is also helpful if you often find yourself without the spinnerbait bag that is sitting in the garage, or the hot thermos of coffee on the kitchen counter.
I hope these basic lists help you to enhance your boating experience and aid in maintaining the safety of you, your family and friends. Catch ’em up!