Boating Safety is no accident – the best preparation for emergencies is a well trained crew. Crew training is the responsibility of the skipper and it is prudent to conduct drills with the crew to include: man overboard recovery, fire and abandon ship procedures.

Vessel Checkout
Pre Cruise
• “Sniff” test (gasoline engines) for vapors/fumes
• Run blowers for 4 minutes (check exhaust ducts, cowling/vents)
• PFDs ( one for each person onboard)
• Throwable flotation device
• Fire extinguishers ( location, charge level)
• Flares ( check expiration date)
• Whistle/horn, bell (if required)
• Navigation lights (sidelights, stern light, mast light)
• Oil Placard
• SOS placard
• Waste management plan - vessels over 12 meters
• Navigation Rules - vessels over 12 meters
• Anchor light
• Anchor and rode (anchor secured)
• Bilge and bilge pumps (check float switch)
• Fenders, boat hook and traveling dock lines
• First aid kit
• Ships papers ( registration, documentation, valid decal and numbers/official number)
• Radio station license
• Radio Check
• Paper towels, bucket and sponge

Engine Before Startup
• Fuel system integrity ( check for leaks) and fuel shutoff switch/valves
• Flame arrester (clean, secure and undistorted)
• Batteries (connectors, water level, switches)
• Engine oil—color smell, level
• Transmission oil - color, smell, level
• Belts, hoses and clamps
• Strainers—clean, no leaks
• Seacocks—no leaks, operate easily
• Stuffing boxes— shafts and rudders

After Start up
• Exhaust discharge
• Shifters
• Gauges - Oil pressure, water temperature, volts, other
• Fuel level
• Unusual noises
• Inspect engine for leaks- fuel, oil, water
• Shore power disconnect - proper procedure

Post Cruise
• Visual inspection of engine compartment
• Stuffing boxes - check for leaks
• Position of switches - AC & DC panels
• Reconnect shore power - proper procedure
• Master AC switch - on
• Battery charger - on
• Bilge pumps - automatic
• Lines secured and flemished
• Gear stowed
• Trash removed
• Notations in ship’s log
• Wash down
• Lock up

Pre-departure Passenger Safety Briefing
The captain’s first and primary responsibility is for the safety of the vessel, passengers and crew. A prudent skipper always conducts a safety briefing prior to departure. At a minimum, the following should be covered with all passengers:
• Boarding and disembarking safely
• Location, proper adjustment and use of PFDs
• Location and use of fire extinguishers
• Deck hazards such as cleats and slippery surfaces
• Underway safety including location of secure handholds, proper seating areas (no riding on bow or sitting on gunwales, seat backs, etc.) and dangers related to vessel motion such as powering up, slowing down/stopping and turning

For guests with little or no boating experience that are going to help crew the vessel:
• Assign responsibilities and fully explain how to safely perform their duties
• Explain and demonstrate line handling safety measures
• When casting off, fully explain the process and the undocking plan and do likewise when docking
• Demonstrate the proper use of fenders and dangers of fending off with hands, feet, etc.

Make certain someone other than the skipper knows how to:
• Use the VHF radio properly to get help or assistance if necessary
• Start and stop the engine(s)
• Engage forward and reverse with the shifters/clutches
• Operate the throttles
• Get the vessel back to and alongside a dock

VHF Marine Radio Protocol
• Recreational vessels voluntarily equipped with a VHF radio are not required to have the radio switched on but when on, channel 16 must be monitored
• Transmissions within a short distance of the calling station should be made on the one watt (low) setting
• Channel 16 is the Distress, Safety and Calling frequency and all non emergency calls must be moved to a “working” channel once contact is made
• Working channels for non commercial use are 68, 69, 71, 72 and 78
• When used for hailing, any single calling transmission initiated on channel 16 must not be longer than 30 seconds duration; if no reply is received, there must be a two minute pause before trying to contact again; a maximum of three contact attempts may be made after which there must be a pause of 15 minutes ( may be reduced to three minutes if it will not interfere with other radio traffic)
• “Bridge to Bridge” transmissions are initiated using channel 13 (one watt only)
• Bridge tenders monitor channels 9 (Florida), 13 and or 16
• Finish each transmission with “OVER” if you expect/want a response
• When you are done with your transmission, use the term “OUT”
• Keep all transmissions as short and concise as possible

Emergencies and Safety
• Maydays are first priority distress calls used when there is imminent danger of loss of life or vessel
• Pan—Pan (pahn pahn) distress calls are the next highest distress priority used when there is danger to a vessel or a person in sight or onboard
• Securite (see-cure-i-tay) are third priority safety messages to notify mariners of items relating to navigational safety or weather

• Initial Hailing: “(Vessel Name, Vessel Name)”, This is (name of your vessel & call sign if any) OVER” (repeat vessel’s name 2 times when hailing - e.g., Sea Tow, Sea Tow)

Hailed Vessel Responds
• Instruct Hailed Vessel to Switch to a working channel: “(Vessel Name), switch and listen on channel 7-8, OVER”

Hailed Vessel Responds
• Switch your radio to Channel 78
• (“Vessel Name, Vessel Name) this is (name of your vessel) - OVER”

Hailed Vessel Responds
• “(Vessel Name), how do you hear me on Channels 1-6 and 7-8, OVER”

Hailed Vessel Responds
• Thank you (Vessel Name) – this is (name of your vessel & call sign ) OUT”
• Switch your radio back to Channel 16 and monitor while underway

NOTE: DO NOT request a “general” radio check on channel 16 - proper procedure requires that a specific vessel or base station be hailed