Before You Go

A 15-minute vessel check will help ensure a safe return.

vessel check

Boat US

After a long week in the office, many boaters cannot wait to leave the dock. But before you untie the docklines in your rush to fun, set aside 15 minutes to make some essential safety checks that according to the Coast Guard could save your life.

Know your boat’s safe capacity before inviting guests aboard—overloaded vessels handle differently and can be unsafe, even in calm conditions. Inspect your PFDs to ensure that you have enough to go around and that they are in serviceable shape. Correct size and classification are also essential components. And don’t forget to carry a throwable flotation device. Next check the gear you’ll need in an emergency: VHF radio, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and ground tackle. Make an examination of the mechanical spaces, including hoses, wiring, and float switches, and make sure navigation lights are operational. After all, you’re not planning on coming home after dark, but plans change.

Take the Coast Guard's advice: 15 minutes can ensure hours of safe time on the water. For more information and tips on boating safety, visit