a couple sailing into the sunset on a yacht

Pre-Departure Checklist for Smooth Sailing

Ready for a fun sailing adventure aboard your yacht? Great! We’re excited for you. But before you head out to enjoy the azure sea water, it’s important to ensure you and your boat are completely prepared for the trip.

As a trusted provider of yacht maintenance services in the Philippines, we’ve put together a pre-sailing checklist to ensure smooth sailing. Whether it’s for a long offshore sailing passage or a short cruise, take the time to pore over our pre-departure checklist.

a captain checks his maps and charts before sailing

Boating Checklist: Navigation and Documentation


  • Ensure all your ship’s papers and permits are on board.
  • Regardless of the level of your local knowledge, have charts ready for the areas you intend to cruise in.
  • Leave a float plan with at least one or two people on land so they know where to find you if the need arises.

Weather Forecast

  • It’s always important to check the weather forecast for the area and the time during which you’ll be setting sail. You can check weather conditions at sites like PAGASA.
  • Have a radio on board to receive constant weather updates.

Lights and Shapes

  • Make sure all your boat’s instruments and instrument light are working.
  • Have spare batteries on board and one or more torches.
  • Recreational yachts must have and should use day shapes for certain activities.
a yacht's steering wheel

Pre-Sailing Checklist: Boat Condition

  • Check the hull for cracks or other signs of damage.
  • Inspect hose connections for cracks or leaks. Make sure all the hose clamps are tight.
  • Check your yacht’s oil level, and look through the engine compartment for leaks.
  • Check the electrical system to ensure all lights are working properly.
  • Ensure the throttle and steering controls are operating properly.
  • Drain all the water from the engine compartment. Be sure the drainage plug is secure and replaced.
  • If needed, change the water filter, oil filter, and spark plugs.
  • Make sure your yacht monitoring and control systems have been thoroughly inspected by experts like Marine Care.
yacht equipment and spare parts

Pre-Departure Checklist: Equipment

Fuel Oil

  • Check to see if you have adequate fuel. If not, then fill up. You should have sufficient oil to ensure you reach the trip back home, with some to spare.
  • Check the levels of your engine oil and coolant.

Tools and Spares

  • Have a box of spares with standard parts that are commonly required.
  • Ensure your first aid kit is kept in date and meets local requirements.
  • Have a toolbox on board with specific ones to fit your spares and general tools.


  • Make sure bilges are reasonably dry and your pumps are working properly.
  • To prevent overboard discharge, clean up any spilled waste or oil in bilges.

Ventilation Checks

  • If you use gas for cooking, make sure it’s well-ventilated when in use and switched off when not in use.
  • If you detect fuel odors, run checks, shut down the engine, and then look for the leak’s source.
  • For any semi-enclosed or enclosed area, make sure you have at least one working and properly installed carbon monoxide detector.

Battery Care

  • Make sure the selector switch is in the proper position if you have a dual charging system.
  • Ensure the power is on to the entire vessel.
  • If your vessel has rechargeable batteries, make sure they’re charged.
  • Have spare batteries aboard for accessories such as your handheld flashlight, radio, portable navigational aid, etc.
a life jacket and floating device on a yacht

Boat Safety Checklist

Life Jackets

  • Assign each person on board (including pets) with a personal life jacket.
  • Check that your emergency throwing devices are operational and in their intended places.
  • Show all the people on board the right way to use life jackets and emergency devices.

Sound Producing Devices

  • You should have a horn capable of producing a 4-second blast that can be heard for at least half a mile.
  • Ensure that each life jacket has a whistle or audible device.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Your yacht should carry at least one fire extinguisher and it should be in a readily accessible place.
  • Before departure, check to make sure the mounts are secure and functional.
  • Take the time to point out their locations to passengers on board.

Distress Signals

  • Make day signals, flares, and other distress signals accessible. Make sure they’re stored or set up in a dry location.
  • Inform your passengers about the location of the distress signals and the rules for safe and proper usage.
a luxury yacht on the sea

How does having a pre-departure checklist help you?

Simply put, having a sailing pre-departure checklist ensures that you cover all the bases and you’re ready for anything out on the water. You can also use your pre-sailing checklist to acclimate any new passengers to all of the tools they’ll need before they set off on their sailing and boating trip.

Once you’ve gone through this pre-sailing checklist, you can ensure a safe boating season starting day one. Of course, it’s also good to invest in a yacht maintenance program to keep your beloved boat afloat.

Marine Care delivers excellent and unrivalled levels of service when it comes to yacht maintenance, all while providing quality, personal customer service. If you’re thinking about which yacht care maintenance company to choose, look no further than Marine Care.

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