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Catamaran Expert Wiley Sharp’s Sailing Checklist

April 5, 2018 10:28 am

Check out Denison Yachting’s lifelong sailor Wiley Sharp, who shares his trade secrets on proper preparation for optimal success out on the water. Over the years, he’s developed a five-point checklist that is thoroughly covered each time before leaving the dock.

  • Secure Loose Items: One of the first things I do is I walk around the boat and make sure everything is properly stored. I go into each cabin and make sure there’s nothing that’s going to fall off a countertop, that all the hatches are closed, all the portals are closed. One of the areas that most people forget to do is to go into the galley and make sure that, if there’s any dishes left on the countertop, they’re stored in the sink or put in the proper cabinet.
  • Check the Bilges: The second thing I do is I check the bilges on the boat. I want to make sure that they’re dry, that there’s no salt water in there. I want to make sure the bilge pumps are working as well as the float switches. Now sometimes people feel that’s a little bit of overkill if you’re going out for a sunset cruise or a day sail. But it’s those little things that ensure that a little problem doesn’t turn into a big one.

Wiley Sharp Sailing Checklist

  • Safety Equipment: The third thing I’d like to do is check all the safety equipment on the boat. The three Fs as  I like to call it – your fire extinguishers, making sure they’re all in date, your flotation, ensuring that you’ve got proper throwables as well as PFDs for the amount of people on the boat and make sure that I’ve got the proper flares on board and that they’re in date. Not only is that safety equipment important for obvious reasons but when you’re out on the water, if you do get stopped by the police or fish and wildlife, it’s important to have that readily available to avoid getting a ticket.
  • Check the engine(s): The fourth thing I do is I go and I check the engines on the boat. So I check the transmission fluid, the engine oil, the coolant as well as make sure the racor filter is clean. I also check the belt tension to make sure the fan belts are properly tension. Then I just do a general scan around the engine compartment, making sure that it’s clean of any debris. Because without a clean engine compartment, it’s really hard to detect an issue early on.

  • Check the Sails & Rig: The fifth and final thing that I check before I go sailing are the sails and the rigging. That seems really obvious if you’re going sailing but a lot of people forget to do that. So what I do is I start walking around the deck and I check all the deck fittings to make sure that the shrouds are properly tensioned, that there’s no clevis pins missing or anything like that. I’ll check the roller furler. I’ll check the forestay. I’ll make sure all the lifelines are in good shape. Once I get done checking all the standing rigging, I’ll go around and check out the running rigging. Now if I know that day I’m going to be flying the spinnaker, gennaker, code zero, parasail or whatever that downwind sail may be – or off wind sail, I’ll make sure that I’ve got a properly rigged up because it’s a lot easier to do it at the dock or an anchor versus underway.


So these are the things that I do when I’m just either going out for a day sail or a casual cruise. If you’re planning on doing a long passage or an offshore trip, there’s a lot of different things that you need to check. So if you have any questions on that, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

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