Skippers Checklist

General Checks

  • Check radio is operating correctly, pre-planned with another yacht or harbour master. NOT CH 16. Are there weather messages on VHF? Are they in English? What times? 
  • Check for charts and navigation equipment. Place charts likely to use in order in chart table.
  • Is there a deviation chart? Do I need to include in this passage.
  • Check working condition of any electronic equipment e.g. log, depth gauge, wind gauge, GPS
  • Check impellor (log) and how to clean/clear it
  • Check navigation lights are working and if there are spare bulbs
  • Check for safety equipment and ensure good working condition particularly EPIRB, liferaft, lifejackets, safety/life lines
  • Check accuracy of depth gauge with lead line. What is it reading? Water depth or below the keel!
  • Power on board i.e. batteries, shore power. Ensure operating instructions are available and understood.
  • Check gas bottle stowage and operation. Are the bottles full?
  • Check boat inventory and note any damage or missing items
  • Fridge / Cool box How and when does it operate.
  • Check the Dan buoy light operates by removing and turning upside down.


  • How to start
  • Fuel cut-off switch location and operation
  • Fuel
  • Tank capacity
  • Consumption / distance on tank
  • Economical cruising speed
  • Seawater inlet valve / seacock and strainer. Does the system require priming if you remove filter cover?
  • Freshwater header tank & check level
  • Fuel pre-filter and how to drain
  • Check for tools or any spares


  • How to operate
  • Sea cocks
  • Holding tank
  • How to pump
  • How far off shore

Bilge Pumps

  • How many
  • Position
  • How to operate


  • How to operate and reef the mainsail and Genoa
  • Check the split pin that holds the pin that connects furling Genoa foil (under furling drum) to the deck at bow
  • Is there a boom preventor for down wind sailing
  • Check rigging for wear
  • Check the connection of the jackstays to the bow and stern

The above is not an exhaustive list, and does not cater for every boat or every situation. There is room to add more if you wish but I think it is a good start for the new and old to go skippering and have fun.