Planning Your Voyage: Before leaving home, know where you are going, who will be with you, and when you expect to return. Obviously, if you are just going across the lake or up the river, this is a simple matter, but if your going salt water fishing, it is critical that someone ashore knows where you are going and when you expect to return – so that they can call for help if you turn up overdue.
Make sure that you have the proper boating equipment, fuel and supplies. There are a few worse experiences than being broken down or out of fuel in a boat well out of the sight of land. Before venturing out, make certain that you have enough fuel to go to the farthest point and back and still have half a tank to spare, taking into consideration the various marinas and fuel stops that may be along your planned route.
Never leave the dock without, at a minimum, a Personal Floatation Device (Life Jacket) for each person on board and a throwable floating cushion as well. You must also have a fire extinguisher, horn or whistle, and know that your navigation lights are in good working order, even if you don’t intent to be out at night.