Before going out on a vessel, it is always a good idea to leave a float plan with a relative or friend, or at least with a local marina. A float plan should:
Describe the vessel, including its registration number, length, make, horsepower, and engine type.
State where you are going, the detailed route, your planned departure time, and your expected return time.
Give the name, address, and telephone number of each person on board and an emergency contact.
You can help assure a good time while operating your vessel by performing this pre-departure check:
- Check the weather forecast for the area and timeframe during which you will be boating.
- Make sure that the steering and throttle controls operate properly and all lights are working properly.
- Check for any fuel leaks from the tank, fuel lines, and carburetor.
- Check the engine compartment for oil leaks.
- Check hose connections for leaks or cracks, and make sure hose clamps are tight.
- Drain all water from the engine compartment, and be sure the bilge plug is replaced and secure.
- Check to be sure you have a fully charged engine battery and fire extinguishers.
- If so equipped, make sure the ignition safety switch and wrist lanyard are in good order.
- Make sure you have the required number of personal flotation devices (PFDs), and check that they are in good condition.
- Leave a float plan with a reliable friend or relative.