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How to Dock a Boat: Don’t Leave Your Boat Without This Checklist

When you’re done with an afternoon of boating, you might have had a blast—but let’s face it, you’re tired. You just want to hook up the boat and get home as soon as you can. Before you leave, however, it’s important to stick to a basic checklist that will help ensure you take the best care of your boat. Whether you know how to dock a boat or not, it’s sometimes easy to forget a small step. Unfortunately, just a few essential steps can separate your calm, secured boat from a total disaster.

Print this boat-docking checklist and keep it in your boat so you’ll never forget how to dock your boat. After all, you don’t want to end up with a submerged boat like in the photo above!

How to Dock a Boat: First Steps

In the picture above, an unfortunate boater simply forgot to put the drain plugs back in! Water flooded the boat—and it didn’t leave. Depending on your boat, there may be similarly small-but-decisive actions you need to take in order to keep the boat secure:

  • Put the drain plugs back in. It’s simple enough, but you’d be surprised at how often boat owners need to remind themselves that the potential problems ignoring drain plugs can cause. Be on the safe side and double-check.
  • Check your lines. Chafing lines can cause undue stress, and in some cases, maybe even wear them down to the point of being useless. Lines should be clear and unobstructed.
  • Double-check your lines. Is your boat really secured to the dock in the proper fashion? Pull the lines to give them a stress test and make sure they can deal with the weight of the boat as it sways with the water.
  • Keep your “always-on” items on board. Double check if necessary. Your automatic bilge pump and clocks are essentials here.
  • The basics. Do you have your wallet, keys, and the like? Where is the boat key—and is it attached to a floating keychain? If not, you have some shopping to do.

You’ll also want to customize this list depending on your boat’s own specifications and requirements. If you have other actions to take—such as filling out a boat log—now is the time to do them.

How to Dock a Boat: Other Considerations

Since every boat is different, it’s worth mentioning the extra steps some boat owners have to take in order to keep their boat secure:

  • Marina requirements. Your individual marina requirements may call for extra steps to ensure that your boat isn’t just secured to the dock but is also secured against break-ins.
  • Turn off electronic equipment. Not all boats have a large amount of electronic equipment, but if you have a lot of optional accessories like stereos and the like, now is the time to turn them off.
  • Shore power. If you’re charging up on shore power for the time being, make sure that all connections are safe and secure. You may also want to check the local rules for proper etiquette.
  • Inspect seals. If you’ve used a boat sealant in the past, make sure the seal is still holding up before leaving your boat for any period of time.

Your boat is a major investment, and it deserves to be treated like one. Keep a simple checklist handy every time you dock your boat and you’ll be far more likely to return to it with no surprises.

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