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the wynns pre and post sail checklist

Curiosity Pre & Post Sailing Checklists

If there were ever a time for using checklists, before taking off on a sailboat would be it.  We’ve never been huge into keeping lists.  Sure, we keep some basic lists like grocery shopping but not much beyond that.  Now that we live on a sailboat, wow has that changed!

the wynns pre and post sail checklist

Sailing is often compared to flying in terms of safety and procedures and I can see why. There are so many tasks to consider it’s impossible to keep it all straight, much less remember to do everything without a list.  Scratch that, its more like several different lists are needed.  Maintenance schedule, supplies, gear wish list, new crew orientation, and the lists go on.

During our sailing school series we were asked about the pre-sail & post-sail checklists we were using and if we would share it.  At the time, it was the very basic checklist provided by the school.  We live on our sailboat full time, we move anchorages often and use the systems on our boat daily or at least weekly.  We’ve tailored the checklists to best suit our live-aboard sailing catamaran Curiosity.

pre and post sail checklist

So, with that in mind here are the lists that help keep us in check.  If you are looking to create your own, maybe this will help get you started.

PRE-SAIL CHECKLIST

  • Weather forecast
  • Turn On Garmin InReach & Iridium Go
  • Update Predict Wind Offshore app and weather route
  • Turn off anchor light (turn on nav lights if it’s a night sail)
  • Check battery status
  • Bilge check
  • Engine check – clear strainers, Racor for algae, oil levels
  • Fuel status (including jerry cans)
  • Instruments on
  • Radar on
  • VHF on & tuned to channel 16
  • Navigation – All charts and apps on, start recording track
  • Sunscreen, Sailing gloves & PFD’s
  • Swim ladder stowed
  • Galley – Everything stowed, hatches and portlights closed
  • Cabin – Everything stowed, hatches and portlights closed
  • Knot log clear
  • Dingy secured and pins in place
  • Fishing pole ready
  • Stack pack unzipped and ready (tie zipper pull to boom topping line)
  • Rudder control arm clear

POST SAIL CHECKLIST

  • All lines coiled and stowed
  • Mainsail and stack pack tidy and zipped (front cover on if staying more than a night)
  • Wheel locked
  • Turn off instruments, radar and VHF
  • Open hatches & close bug screens
  • Battery check
  • Bilge check
  • Stow fishing pole
  • Turn on anchor light
  • Move over boom for solar panels
  • Rinse the deck to remove salt

We’re still new to everything and building these lists as we go and grow. But, we figure if we share what we’ve got going, it might help someone else and vice versa.  If you notice something we should add, leave us a comment and we will keep updating the lists.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (22)

  • Tommy

    I hope that Bilge Check includes turning on the blower and airing out the space before engine start up. I am playing off a really old tape, but I assume that risk of explosion from fumes will persist until batteries replace petroleum for motoring.
    Keep up the great work – I’ve been enjoying your channel for years!

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    • wayne

      Not required with diesel engines.

      reply
  • Roger Sullivan

    You need to list open and close sea cocks and to check bilges (including pump operation ) at start and finish.

    You want to check staterooms , baths and storage areas for hatch leaks at finish.

    reply
    • ooh, good call. Thanks, we’ll update in a month or so with all the new additions.

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  • Piers Bird

    Marine grade diesel fumes destroyed my iq when working on the hovercraft for three years. At the end of it I had trouble working at a bar as I had done previously with ease. When I left the hovercraft it took me a good while to get through it, but it frightened me and I’ll never forget it. Luckily attending interesting complex lectures for four hours plus in University eventually(four years) got me better than before but it took a mammoth effort and tears of frustration! So be sure to seal off the slightest leak to the highest standard, no price is too high to not go down the road I went. Thing is you don’t realise it’s happening until you try and do something else. This is a positive warning, we love you guys the way you are..healthy, positive, quirky with personality. Not progressively quieter. You HAVE to guard yourself. Xxx

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  • Suzie

    Are fish hard to catch? I always had the fantasy you would never go hungry by pitching the line over board….when people are talking fish stories, what do they catch? Love the lobster bounty!

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    • Sarah-Jane

      Nikki would say no to that question, but Jason might go hungry for a while 😉

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  • I am such a checklist person it’s not even funny. I have lists for my weekend to-dos, work, etc. I freakin’ love crossing/checking things off my lists! Great start to the pre and post lists! Do you have these laminated to use multiple times with a wipe-off style marker?

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  • Frank Mosuch

    Interesting that you choose to turn your VHF off while at anchor. I was trained differently. Unless at a marina or dock, radio is on. Maybe that’s considered old school now, but I like channel 16 yelling about someone dragging or in trouble in the dark of the night.

    reply
    • We do have a portable VHF we’ll often keep on, especially when in a busy anchorage.

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  • Mike

    I think I see a fairly serious omission from your pre list and your post list. You have “fishing pole ready” and then “store fishing pole”. But I don’t see “Fillet massive fish”. You might want to add that…..lol. Hope you two are doing well. ????

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  • mary

    I know some days I am sharper than others (or maybe it wasn’t a good cup of coffee). It is easy to miss something when you have not had a good night sleep.

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  • Warren

    Pre-flight is exactly what I was thinking too! Maybe that’s the next adventure. Your lists make it look too easy which leads me to my first question: is it unusual to set just the one anchor? I ask cause I remember usually setting two when out in the Chesapeake for overnights (athough smaller boat and smaller anchors). Also do you have a drift (drag?) alarm? Does enabling that belong on the post sail checklist?

    What new drone are you considering? Waterproof sounds terrific although I don’t see many choices for that – could be I’ve looked in the wrong places

    reply
    • Curious Minion

      It’s not necessary to set 2 unless you want/need to maintain an exact orientation and not swing with the wind or tide. In another post Jason and Nikki using the Drag Queen anchor alarm app.

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  • Andrew

    Do you need to open or close seacocks when readying for getting underway or upon reaching your destination? Have you sorted a procedure for checking in or out of a location with customs, immigration or the local constabulary? Or for determining what is required at each new location?

    Thanks mucho much for sharing your lists as they stand.

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  • Connie

    I remember my Dad having list for Flying….checking for preflight and post flight…maybe that’s why I’m a list person….I was actually wondering about Curiosity list. Thanks! Big hugs!

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  • George

    One extra question, would it help ship movement, at anchor, if the boom were at a reach position or is that not safe for some reason. I’m sure it wouldn’t lend towards the beautiful Curiosity appearance.

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  • George

    I am having so much “winter fun” enjoying you two and others. I’m so happy that you keep us up to date as often as possible. thank you so much!!!!!

    reply
  • Pam McClure

    I love lists. Thanks!!

    reply

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