Going offshore boating for the first time (checklist)

Mike McKiernan
Posted December 20 2015

Sitting in the comfort of your marina berth can easily offer you a false sense of security with regards to the overall seaworthiness of your vessel. Prior to any offshore cruising whether it be coastal or ocean crossings it is imperative you ensure your vessel is completely prepared for the voyage.

Hauling your vessel is very important to ensure the condition & cleanliness of the hull bottom and running gear as this can seriously hinder your fuel economy over long distances. At this time you should also check the integrity of all under water running gear including, propellers, shafts, shaft bearings, anodes,​ rudders & stock bearings, bow & stern thrusters and stabilizers. Additionally all through hull penetrations, fittings and valves should be inspected and replaced if any weeping or corrosion is evident or the isolating valves are tight in operation.

Ensure you have an intimate knowledge of your vessel and its operation so you can maintain it while underway with best sea keeping practices in mind. It is also important that the master and crew have a sound understanding of all safety equipment on board with regular drills ensuring swift reactions in the case of an emergency. When voyage planning you should factor in a suitable fuel reserve (15-20%) coupled with enough water and stores should your course be altered by unknown factors ​causing more miles to be covered equaling a greater time at sea.

Prior to departure it is advised to conduct a final check over the vessel ensuring all bilges are dry, the fuel and water tanks are pressed etc. coupled with the items mentioned above. The weather and tides should also be monitored for your departure with a structured navigation watch in place so the crew know their obligations lessening the possibility of fatigue. All vessels are different and the above is a guideline only – if you have any questions relating to your vessel please feel free to contact Rod Twitchin Marine or the friendly staff at Gold Coast City Marina.


Ensuring the vessel is sound with water and weather tight integrity in mind. All seacocks are easy to cycle for ease of servicing systems and for isolating in the event of an emergency. All machinery and systems are serviced and functioning well with adequate spares on board. All bilges are dry and clean with all bilging systems operational. Fuel tanks are clean without any contamination settled in the sumps that could potentially block filters when in open water and the vessel is rolling and pitching​. Rigging and sails are sound (if applicable). All batteries and electrical systems are in good 
working order. Communications and navigation equipment is working including all navigation lights as per COLREGS. All safety and firefighting equipment is in good working order, registered or in date where applicable. Additionally regular drills should be performed to ensure all crew are aware of equipment location and operation in the event of an emergency. Registrations, insurances, passports are current and customs are contacted if applicable. A sail plan is generated accompanied by the relevant paper charts to back up any possible GPS failure.

This article originally featured in Marina Magazine, published by the team at Gold Coast City Marina.

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