What To Check Before Going Boating

Author: Stuart Buckingham   Date Posted:5 July 2017 

Blog What to check before going boating Going boating should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience with family and friends, however, a lack of preparation can see a nice day planned turn into a shemozzle with your boat never leaving the launching ramp.

Here is my quick and easy checklist for your boat, trailer, motor to ensure your next planned outing on the water goes smoothly.


  1. 1.  Check your bungs. Do you have them and are they in? It's also a good idea to check the o ring or seal on the bung to make sure it is not torn or perished.
  2. 2.  Navigation lights. If you plan on going out when it's dark make sure your navigation lights are working and that your ‘all round’ anchor light is also functioning.
  3. 3.  Safety Gear. Make sure flares are in date and all safety gear is accounted for. Not only will you be thankful in the case of an emergency, but you'll also be thankful of the fines you'll avoid if checked by marine safety.


  1. 1.  Walk around your trailer making sure that the tyres look inflated and that there are no rips or tears in the sidewall of the tyres.
  2. 2.  Plug the trailer into the vehicle and check all lights are working. It's amazing how a bad contact in the trailer plug can cause all sorts of mischief with your trailer lights. Often it will be something as simple as using a small screwdriver to spread the trailer plug pins so they each make better contact with the vehicles plug that does the trick.


  1. 1.  Check around the propeller to ensure there is no fishing line wrapped around it and the prop nut is tight.
  2. 2.  At the boat helm, check the trim and tilt is working and also crank your outboard. You don't want to run your outboard but just check that the battery has plenty of life in it to crank over your outboard.
  3. 3.  While you're at the helm check the steering is free and not seized. The amount of boats with seized steering I've seen over the years is mind-boggling; it is something that easily gets overlooked.
  4. 4.  Check your fuel level. Always be sure you have more fuel than you think you need, plans change and the weather can come up in an instant so having a reserve of extra fuel is a safe position to be in.
  5. 5.  Visually check the water trap on filters with a glass bowl to ensure it is free of contaminants (if applicable).

They all seem like such obvious things to check but we can all get complacent and, at times, can have a little too much confidence in our boats. Happy boating!

Comments (5)

Outboard Steering stiffness

By: on 29 March 2020
I have a 115hp merc on a quintrex 540 boat and the steering is quite stiff any ideas on how to lubricate the cable to help free it up a bit.

Outboard Spares Response
Ok, so it could be a couple of things. 1) it could be the cable itself 2) it could be the swivel bracket of the engine that is tight. Easiest way to check this is to remove the link rod from the end of steering cable (at the motor end) and see if the engine moves freely from side to side. Engine should be tilted most of the way down to check this. If it's free, then it's your cable. If not, it's your swivel bracket. 1)If it is the cable, it's most likely tight in the tilt/steering tube due to old grease and rust. Best thing to do is remove the cable from the tilt tube by loosening off the large nut where the cable screws onto the tilt tube (if you can without having to lift the engine off with a crane) and then clean out the steering tube and re-install the cable. There are many things you can use to try and clean out the tube (de-greasers, wooden dowling, large drill bits, sand paper, small wire brush, etc). Just don't damage the thread ends of the tube. 2) If it is the engine that is tight on the swivel, then you can try pumping a light grease into it while moving the engine side to side. In my experience, sometimes they will need heat (Oxy-acetylene or Gas torch) to help loosen the muck that makes the swivels tight. If you still find that the steering is tight and it's definitely not the swivel bracket on the engine, then you could have a faulty cable or damaged cable that just needs to be replaced. This would be a 2 to 4 hour job on average. Hope this helps. Cheers

Helpfull Information

By: on 29 March 2020
Hey guys, I am new to boating so all the helpful information I can get is greatly appreciated. I would rather read it here and check it than be out on the Ocean and have it break. So thank you :)

Bung's, Bung's, Bung's!

By: on 17 April 2019
Went out one day came home removed bung's heap's of water, two ring had split. Bought new bung's launched boat, OOPS forgot to fit the new bung's, I now have a sticker reminding me to FIT the BUNG'S. Dry feet again.

great check sheet

By: on 16 April 2019
Thanks guys, As a novice I find this extremely valuable. I'm always on the look out for safety and stability in my tinny. Thanks for the sound reminders. Safe boating

Cranking over a dry motor

By: on 16 April 2019
I am told that turning over a motor to test the battery can damage the pump impeller if the motor is not in water. If the motor has been sitting in the sun the cowling can get extremely hot and I'm told that turning the motor then could damage the impeller. Interested in your thoughts as I'm always tempted to give it a quick test crank

Outboard Spares Response
Hi, extended cranking could result in impeller failure but I've never seen an impeller fail due to cranking an engine over to check for spark, compression or check battery voltage. If you're worried then by all means put the engine in a test tank or put a "ear muff" type flushing unit on the lower unit and put some water through first. Thanks for your comments. Cheers

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