Leaving Boat Checklist – Short Term

When leaving your boat for the short-term, perhaps for a couple days to a couple weeks, there are a variety of tasks to complete. A leaving boat checklist will certainly come in handy as there’s quite a few things you wouldn’t want to miss! Check out what Simon and I do when we leave Britican by watching the video below…

Being full time liveaboard cruisers, we’ve left our boat for a few months in Gibraltar. We also left Britican for a couple weeks in Sicily and five days in a marina in St Lucia (Caribbean). As of late, being based in Charleston we’ve left our boat for several weekends and weeks at a time.

Buy why leave the boat?

The main reason that my family and I leave the boat is to fly or drive ‘home’ to visit friends and family. We’ve also been known to take a few days away from the boat for a road trip or to visit a theme park. Most recently, my husband, daughter and I left the boat for five days and went to Disney World in Florida.

There are quite a few checklists available for wintering a boat or leaving a boat for a season but this checklist is for a quick ‘vacation’ away from your boat. When leaving for the short term a full decommission of the boat is not necessary…but what is?!

The following leaving boat checklist will help to ensure you reduce the likelihood of returning to an untidy, moldy, smelly problematic boat. You might also be interested in information about boat mold removal, check out my article: The Top 14 Mold Removal Techniques. An insurance broker once told me that more claims are made (and denied) for mold destruction than anything else. In most policies insurance providers will not payout for mold damage – probably because it happens all the time.

Take these steps to ensure you come back to your boat in the same state that you left her in! Watch the video and the take a look at the checklist below. Copy it, customize it to your needs and be proactive about making sure you return to a nice smelling, working boat when you return from a short trip.

Leaving Boat Video

Leaving Boat Checklist – Short Term

  • Clean the boat. This is just a general hygiene task. Once the boat is clean it’s easier to determine the extra steps necessary to protect and prepare your boat for a short leave.
  • Empty the bilge. Stale bilge water not only stinks but can attract mosquitos!
  • Empty all gray water tanks. Again, any standing water can start to smell very bad very quickly.
  • Poor vinegar down all drains (toilet, sinks, floor drains). This will help prevent clogging, is less abrasive on the pumps/plumbing and will allow you to come back to good smelling drains 😉 After a few hours the strong smell disappears so when you return to your boat it won’t smell like a British Fish & Chips shop.
  • Temporarily pickle the water maker if leaving for more than 10 days or as per the manufactures recommendation.
  • Pickle the watermaker (if leaving for longer than 10 days). Note that you don’t have to completely shut down the watermaker, you just have to pickle it.
  • Clean out and/or shut down the fridge/freezer (depending on how long you’ll be gone). Get rid of any food that will go off while you’re gone.
  • Have a plan for the batteries to make sure they don’t drain down too low or become dead. Even if you turn everything off on a boat, chances are that something will inevitably drain the battery if gone for too long.
  • Lock all windows and close blinds.
  • Turn beds up to prevent mold/mildew from forming below cushions or use the special material we have on our boat that allows air to circulation under the mattresses.
  • Unplug any electronics and/or appliances.
  • Pack paperwork and important documents, passports, etc.
  • Take the trash out.
  • Offload anything you don’t currently need on the boat to friends and family (if you’re visiting friends/family). I often have a bag of my daughters clothes that go to a younger cousin. In the video, you’ll noticed that we offloaded a sail on my brother. It’s a sail that we won’t be flying so it’s now destine to sit in my brothers attic.
  • Turn everything off or as much off as possible.
  • Check lines and warps to make sure boat is secure.
  • Lock up and give key to marina or trusted boat neighbor.

What else?!

Some other things that you might want to consider doing is to run all your pumps, engines, motors, etc before leaving. If you’re going to be gone for a while it’s good to run the engine, genset, aircon/heat and get internal pieces and parts moving a bit. Things like impellers and pump innards don’t like to sit in one place for too long.

You might also want to close off some seacocks. Just remember to make a note of what you closed so that you can open them upon your return.

What else? Do you have anything to add. If yes, please add a note below in the comments section.