Before Moving Boat Checklist

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

Every time we got underway, it seemed we forgot something. And then we'd have a surprise as a locker would open and cans fall out. A simple checklist solved the problem -- download a template and make your own!

As you get ready to leave the marina slip or weigh anchor, do you find yourself wondering what you’ve forgotten to do?  Whether it’s double-checking that all lockers are latched (so no cans will become missiles), or closing all the hatches and portholes, it seemed that Dave and I usually managed to miss something.

Tired of drying dishes sliding off the counter, cans falling out of lockers, dragging a bag of clams and more, Dave and I developed a “Before Moving the Boat” checklist.  Now, this is just the stuff to prep the boat in general — not the things like checking the engine coolant and oil, which are also important.

If you want such a list for yourself, I’ve made mine into a downloadable Word doc (below).  But you’ll have to customize it for your own boat — you may not have to move a rug or get the dog’s leash out, for example.  And over time, we changed some items and added others — initially, it seemed that we added items almost every time we went anywhere!

There are lots of columns so that I don’t need to print one off each time we leave an anchorage/marina.  My way of using it is to check everything off as I do it — or if it doesn’t apply.  Then, literally immediately before hoisting the anchor or casting off the dock lines, I double-check the list to make sure there is a check mark in every box in today’s column.

We taped it inside the cover of our log . . . and yes, you’ll see that I wasn’t always perfect about checking off the items that didn’t apply!

Every time we got underway, it seemed we forgot something. And then we'd have a surprise as a locker would open and cans fall out. A simple checklist solved the problem -- download a template and make your own!

If the document does not show below (some browsers have problems), click here to view or download.

Print Friendly
How to Copy

Do You Find The Boat Galley Useful?

You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost to you!



  1. Gretchen Hannsz Witzgall on Facebook says:

    Thank you and very timely…I was just discussing w/ Chris how having to stow everything to get going is bogging me down on wanting to pull anchor and go…this should help! Thanks!

  2. James Giard says:

    I can see the need for a list like what you made up. For the most part if one has been doing this for a while the check list is in your mind and you check each item mentally before you leave the slip or mooring. I have a 26′ cabin cruiser tied at a marina slip.As I secured items in the lower cabin bring up the right amount of preservers one for each person that is going out on the boat. Do a final inspections of all systems and turn on bilge blower and finally turn start the engine.What has happen to me twice and it was very embarrassing between the time that I started mental check off list to undoing the ropes from the dock cleats someone would ask a question about my method of leaving the slip and or what they could do to help. and I will forget 1 very important thing, or thought I all ready took care of It….was to undo the shore power cord from the boat. I would have powered the boat 2 to 4 feet down the slip and someone on another dock boat would point out the shore power cord was still attach to the boat. I would stop the boat and unhook the shore power cord from the boat and thank the person for pointing it out and be on our way.I am sure the marina owner would not have been very impress if I pull the electrical tower off the dock and into the water.

    After the last time it happen when I got home I went to the West Marine Web site and copied & pasted two pictures of 50′ yellow shore power cords and enlarge them to fill out one page and my wife brought it to an UPS store and had them laminated. I than place laminated picture on top of the cockpit gages and would not remove it until I had the shore power cord unplug from the boat at the electrical tower storage hook on the dock if it was a day trip, or unplug from the tower and all the cord brought on the boat if an overnight trip to another marina. I never had another incident like that again.

  3. We have friends who laminated their list so that they can use a whiteboard marker then rub it off for next time. But whatever works!

  4. Wait! You’re gonna love catamaran life. You may be able to chuck the list overboard. 😉

  5. Ted has got his own lists I’m sure

  6. Wild I had just asked on WWS if anyone had started one and yes as cat owners many of these apply. Thanks for getting me started!

  7. Lol, I woke up at 0400, thinking, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say…let’s change it to “your list may get a lot shorter”.

  8. Paula Spence, M/Y Sea Eagle says:

    We keep our “Moving the Boat” checklist in our smartphone. Works very well for us.

  9. We institute a 20 minute rule everything is stow able in 20 minutes it helps us stay organized

  10. We use checklists also. We have one for setting off, leaving the boat (used when we are leaving for an extended time), guest crew orientation, and heavy weather.

  11. Nice to see the wine glass safety is first on the list!

  12. Cool, thank you!

  13. Cool, thank you!

  14. Reggie Botkin…….wheel!!

  15. Not bringing in the swim leader gets us a lot

  16. I guess I don’t have the right kind of boat.

  17. Auto pilot not on. First time we used our boat was after we had been out on the ocean trial right after we bought it, and the auto pilot was left on. My husband had no idea why he couldn’t control the boat. What a nightmare! We were lucky to get some help to get it back in the slip.

  18. Rich

  19. Wow, thank you for this! Looks very helpful.

  20. Drain Plug

  21. Agreed….always something will slide or fall out….will make one!!

  22. Roger Danley says:

    I’m writing procedures for everything I can thin of we need to know, but hadn’t made any checklists. Great idea! Thanks so much.

Add Your Thoughts