Whether you’re a skipper taking a group of people out on a charter boat or have visitors joining you for a week or two on your boat, it’s helpful to have a sailboat briefing checklist of things to go through before setting sail.
Furthermore, if you’ve never gone out on sailboat this list might also prove useful!
To my amazement, while sailing around Italy and Greece I’ve seen several people on holiday pay for a day-trip on a sailboat. They seem to get on the boat and set sail immediately…and I bet the skipper doesn’t go through any of the important information below. The below might be too much information for just a day trip, but it’s worth knowing where the life jackets are and what to do if the Skipper falls off the boat!
When we have visitors join us on Britican, we more or less go through this list
If there’s anything I’m missing, please add it to the comments section below the article!
Sailboat Briefing Checklist – Up on Deck
- Basics: getting on & off the boat safely
- Moving around: what you can walk on, hold onto & clip yourself to (jackstay)
- Deck hazards: shoe policy, hatches, boom & any other hazard area
- Lines & winches: basic use & hazards to be aware of
- Lockers: where they are & the contents (Fender storage, cleaning supplies, safety equipment location, & gas)
- Tender: how it’s used
- Engine: turning it on/off & how to operate. Emergency turn-off
- Instruments & GPS: quick overview
- Teamwork: report any injuries, breakages, concerns or illnesses immediately
- Sun protection: hats, sunscreen
- Hydration policy: everyone must be seen to be drinking water throughout the day
- Sea sickness: symptoms, ways to avoid it, what to do if you get it
- Medical questionnaires filled out? Ask visitors/crew: Any allergies? Anyone that can’t swim? Medical conditions? Food allergies? Diabetes, epilepsy, heart condition, etc.
- Man Over Board (MOB): purpose of equipment, MOB procedure & MOB buttons/alerts, life raft etc. Note: if you do fall in, go into fetal position
- MAYAY Instructions: Make a note that you’ll show crew the VHF & MAYDAY procedure below decks (See Sending a MAYDAY Checklist)
- Life raft: purpose & procedure for use
- EPIRB/SART: purpose & procedure for use
- Flares: location, use & precautions
- Life raft survival grab bag: location, purpose & contents
- Emergency tiller: location, how to use
- Emergency fuel cut-off location
Sailboat Briefing Checklist – Below Deck
- Moving around: hand holds, slipping, companionway steps
- Lifejackets & harnesses. Distribute, adjust & discuss when and where to wear
- First aid kits: locations, equipment, logbooks & procedure for requesting First Aid. Mention who the designated First Aider is.
- VHF Radio: show how to turn on & follow instructions for MAYDAY call
- Torches and search lights: locations
- Circuit board: overview of switches & how the electricity works, Nav lights
- Fire extinguishers & blankets: location
- Hatches: dangers & making sure they’re closed at sea
- Heads: how to use, no toilet paper! Also mention that lack of water in the head is a serious danger & should be reported immediately
- Sinks/showers: how to use & how to clean up afterwards
- Water: drinkable/not drinkable? Explain water is in short supply!
- Galley: location of everything, dangers (gas, slamming doors, burns) & how each appliance operates. Important that everyone keeps galley clean
- Cleanliness: everything needs to be put back from where it came from!
- Flooding: bilge pumps, stop cocks, plugs & bailing
- Garbage: general waste and hazardous waste policies
I’m sure some of the things above won’t apply and perhaps I’m missing a variety of items. Please leave a comment below if there’s something you can add. And remember, if you’d like to know when I publish an article, enter your email at the top right-hand side of this page – up in the top boarder. Every three articles I write, I’ll send you a note letting you know.