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Safe Boating 

On the Water:

  1. Plan your trip (see Trip Checklist)
  2. Know your route and what’s along the way (ex. Marinas, gas docks etc)
  3. Learn the waters, including current water levels
  4. Check forecasts
  5. Let someone know your plan
  6. Carry all safety equipment

For information on safety equipment visit

 At Launch:

  1. Outdrive bellows – Inspect on an annual basis. Deteriorated bellows can cause the watercraft to sink.
  2. Through-hull fittings – Be certain all hose connections are tight and that no frost damage has occurred.
  3. Deck fittings – Loose fittings can allow moisture in, resulting in premature core rot and structural deterioration.
  4. Electrical System – Corrosion can form quickly on metal-to-metal contacts, such as battery terminals. A quick cleaning can help ensure your engine starts every time.
  5. Fluids – Fresh fluids, including engine and gear case oil help reduce wear and prolong mechanical life.
  6. Bilge Pumps – Ensure pumps are functioning and automatic floats work by lifting the float switch.
  7. Batteries – Old, tired batteries don’t’ always have the power to turn over the engine.
  8. Hoses – Rubber hoses should not be brittle or hard, belts should not show signs of cracking and be tensioned properly.
  9. Fire systems – Automatic and portable extinguishers should be checked and serviced annually. Do not mount portable extinguishers in difficult to reach areas where they are not visible or accessible.

In Storage:

  1. Professional Winterization
  2. Consider locking devises to immobilize watercraft stored on a trailer
  3. Install satellite monitoring systems to monitor whereabouts of the watercraft
  4. Clear snow and ice to prevent damage
  5. Install alarm system
  6. Periodically check on watercraft

 Trip Checklist

  • Ensure you have adequate fuel for your planned trip. The rule is one-third out, one-third back and one-third for safety.
  • Check all fluid levels; water, antifreeze, battery, oil and transmission. Add to your list any fluid levels for other needed equipment, such as cooking or generator.
  • Ensure you have an engine maintenance manual on board and are familiar with it.
  • Ensure your batteries are fully charged. If they aren’t, ensure you find out why before you leave the dock.
  • Check your supplies of spare parts and tools. Be especially mindful of what you can bring to plug leaks and repair your propulsion system.
  • Check the marine weather forecast beyond the planned duration of your trip.
  • Ensure your bilge pumps, both manual and electric, are working.
  • Ensure your mandatory safety equipment is on board and is in working condition.
  • Ensure your guests know where the life jackets are and how to use them.
  • Ensure your emergency kit is on board containing such items as a first aid kit, dry clothes, signaling equipment and dried food.
  • Ensure your navigation lights are functioning. This should involve operating them for 30 minutes.
  • File a Trip Plan with the marina or another responsible person.
  • Ensure your VHF radio is working.
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Northstar Marine Insurance Inc.
270-92 Caplan Ave, Barrie, ON, L4N 9J2
Phone 1-866-717-9295, Fax 1-866-354-7337