Develop a list and brief your guests and crew
Most boaters don’t think about all the things that can go wrong on the water. Feeling the excitement that the weekend brings, they often neglect to go over the safety basics with their guests and crew before casting off.
This necessary safety briefing only takes a little time and is especially important when you have guests aboard. The skipper is responsible for making sure everyone aboard knows the safety basics before departure. If you have guests aboard, I recommend a verbal safety briefing.
Even if you don’t have guests aboard, a quick mental review of your safety checklist is a good idea.
Each vessel is unique, so a safety checklist that works for my boat may need to be customized to meet the needs of your vessel. If you don’t already have one, now is a great time to develop your own safety checklist.
Here is the checklist I use when I have guests aboard:
- Review basic sailing plan (destination, time estimate, etc.)
- Review weather forecast
- Show life jacket location and how to open storage locker
- Review man-overboard procedure and duties
- Review use of throw rope and life jackets
- Review use of VHF radio, including emergency protocol
- Show location and review use of fire extinguishers
- Review use of engine compartment emergency fire control port
- Show location and proper use of handle for manual bilge pump
- Show location and demonstrate use of emergency tiller
- Verify that someone aboard can start the engine and maneuver the vessel if the skipper is incapacitated
- Show location of flares and signaling devices
- Show location of sound-warning devices
- Show location of first-aid kits