Boat Pre-Launch & Launch Checklists

Ready to take your prized possession out for a ride? Of course you are, but hold on a minute there Captain! Before you even think about putting your boat in the water, aren’t you forgetting something?

Boat launch ramp checklist

Follow these pre- and at-launch checklists every time you take a trip on your boat to enjoy a smooth launch at the boat ramp and prevent any embarrassing mishaps.

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General Boat Pre-Launch Checklist

Before launching your boat out into the water, we recommend going through the following boat pre-launch general checklist.

Boat pre-launch checklist weather

  • Check the weather forecast to avoid boating in severe weather conditions.
  • Ensure you have all the necessary documentation required by your state, such as your boating license, registration papers, etc.
  • Check to make sure you have at least one personal flotation device for each person onboard, plus any other safety equipment required by your state.
  • Prepare and pack enough food and water for the duration of the trip. Pay special attention to how much water you bring, as it’s easy to get dehydrated when boating.
  • Invest in a comprehensive first-aid kit and bring it with you on every trip.

Boat Inspection Pre-Launch Checklist

After going through the checklist for onboard safety and supplies, run through this next checklist to make sure your boat is safe to launch. 

Boat launch inspection checklist

  • Check the hull and transom for damage.
  • Ensure the drain plug is securely installed.
  • Inspect the propeller and prop shaft for damage, and remove any fishing line or debris wrapped around them.
  • Make sure each outboard runs properly.
  • Check the engine oil and top it off if necessary.
  • Ensure the fuel tank is full, and fill it up if it's not.
  • Inspect fuel lines for leaks.
  • Check that the battery is fully charged and all electrical connections are secure.
  • Make sure all the gauges and instrumentation are working.
  • Check that all navigation lights are working
  • Inspect the anodes and replace them if they’re depleted.
  • Check to make sure the bilge is clean and the bilge pump is working.
  • Make sure all lines are in good condition.

Trailer Pre-Launch Checklist

Now that you’ve inspected the boat and checked off all the boat pre-launch items, up next is the pre-launch trailering safety checklist. 

Boat launch checklist trailer winch

  • Check that the tires are inflated to the correct pressure and the lug nuts are fully tightened.
  • Inspect wires and connections and check that all lights are working
  • Make sure the trailer hitch, the winch and chains are all secured.

Boat Ramp Launch Checklist

After going through all the pre-launch checklist items, it’s time to get ready to launch. Before you do, make sure to run through the following checklist.

Boat ramp launch checklist

  • Use caution when walking on a boat ramp. 
  • Remove any boat-to-trailer tie-down straps.
  • Disconnect trailer lights, but leave trailer fully connected to vehicle.
  • Tilt the outboard down, provided it won’t bottom out on the ramp. Otherwise leave it trimmed up.
  • Slowly back the trailer down the ramp until the boat’s stern just begins floating.
  • Put your vehicle in Park and engage the parking brake, but don’t turn off engine.
  • Use caution when releasing the winch because the handle may try to spin rapidly.
  • Secure the boat to the dock once it’s free from the trailer.
  • Park your vehicle and lock the trailer to the vehicle to deter thieves.

We hope we didn't leave anything out, but following these checklists before and during every boat launch should help ensure a safe and pleasant boating experience. Have a nice ride!

Boat launch takeoff



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