New Powerboat Owner Checklist, Tips, and Advice

Becoming the owner of a new to you powerboat can be one of the most exciting days of your life. Preparing yourself, your crew and your vessel is one of the most important parts of being boat owner. You are going to learn lessons, tips and tricks during the entire relationship with a new boat, but we wanted to start you off on the right path with pre-launch tips and advice, along with a checklist for new powerboat owners. Here is a checklist of the things you will need as well as the things you will need to note before embarking on your boating adventure, no matter how big or small.

There are many things that that will work for you and not for others. Each boat is unique just as each boat operator is unique. This is a general piece of advice for new powerboat owners to build a foundation of knowledge of off.

What You Need For A New Powerboat

  • Boat Insurance, license, registration
  • USCG approved PFD's
  • USCG required safety gear
  • Sound producing devices
  • Flare gun and visual distress signals
  • Marine VHF radio
  • A bucket or means to manually bail water
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fuel
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Tool kit (screwdrivers, pliers, hose clamps, socket set, Allen wrenches, sharp and durable knife, WD-40, duct tape, headlamp)
  • Anchor and anchor rode
  • Dock lines
  • GPS electronics or device
  • Watersport's safety flags
  • Food and water. Enough to stay hydrated and extra in case you are out longer than expected

Offshore Powerboats Also Need

  • Life raft
  • Legal documentation for boat and captain

You Need To Know How To

  • Fuel your boat and vent any fumes before startup
  • Trailer and launch your boat
  • Dock your boat
  • Check the weather
  • Install and check the drain plug
  • Visually inspect all safety and operating equipment of your boat
  • Operate the motor safely
  • Check the oil (where applicable)
  • Navigate among other boaters safely and according to law
  • Read and understand all buoys and markers
  • Follow manufactures operating instructions
  • Handle dock lines and mooring lines
  • Hang fenders properly to avoid damage to your boat or a dock
  • Man Over Board (MOB) recovery procedure
  • Check battery voltage

Boat Accessories To Make Life Easier

Click the link below for a list of Federal requirements for recreational boaters

Download West Marine's Safe Boating Checklist Here

If you are an avid boater, please comment below and offer your experience and advice to the new boat owners out there gearing up to enjoy the water!


  • Having the proper amount and the correct fenders for a new boat is oftentimes overlooked. When I first bought my boat, I picked up 2 fenders. They ended up being too small and too few. I recommend getting a minimum of 3 fenders but typically 1 fender per 9-10 feet of boat.

    I also recommend double checking all electrical connections and applying anti-corrosion gel to the battery terminals.

    A prop wrench and a spare prop are also a must on board.

    Equipping a quality ditch bag for all of your safety equipment like flares and things is a must. This will keep everything ready to use and in one place. More importantly, it will also protect your boat safety equipment from the elements ensuring that it is always in operable condition.

    Good supply list for a new boat owner West Marine, thank you!

  • The amount of information and support West Marine provides boaters is second to none. I've been following the West Marine webinars for a while now and I really enjoyed the New Boat Owner tips and tricks. It is geared a little more towards anglers however it still covers all the new boat owner supplies that you should equip your boat with. The video talks about carrying two anchors as well. Carrying two anchors for two different purposes is pretty important depending on the area you plan to boat. One for shallow water fishing and one for deep water fishing. This also applies to mooring for lunch or recreation.

  • Excellent list Dock Line Forum! I'd like to add that if you trailer your boat, make sure to stay on top of your trailer maintenance as well. I always keep a box of trailer parts in my truck when I tow. I keep extra straps, pins and electrical wire, tape and connectors. My new trailer has maintenance free bearings but I used to carry grease and cotter pins as well. Also keep an eye on your spare tire pressure. I couldn't use my spare once because the pressure was too low and I didn't even notice it until I had to use it.

  • Every new boat owner should schedule their maiden voyage on a day where the harbor or marina are going to be less crowded. You should also take a look at the weather conditions and try to pick a day that they are in your favor. All boats handle differently and take the proper amount of time to figure out your boats tolerances and actions. This will make trailering easier if you trailer your boat. This will also make navigating and coming on to a plane easier as well. Stay focused and learn your boat for the sake of your own safety and the safety of the others in the area.

  • New boat owners should double.. triple... no quadruple check the plugs! It is one of the most costly mistakes someone can make and yet it's probably one of the most common. Also, run your vents before starting your boat.

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