While the boat is still on the trailer, walk around for a visual inspection of the hull. Next, climb aboard for a visual inspection of the interior and engine compartment (motor well for outboards): ensure everything is in place and secure. Don’t forget the drain plug(s)! Check your other safety accessories: aboard? In secure locations?
Once your boat is launched, review the helm to familiarize yourself with the location and function of all instruments and controls. Make sure the steering wheel, throttle and shift controls are well within your reach and that you are comfortable with their operation.
If your boat is fitted with K-Plane trim tabs, be comfortable with the location and operation of the tab trim switches. The driver needs to know the location and function of accessory switches such as bilge blower, bilge pump, running lights, horn, courtesy lights and related fuses, or circuit breakers.
All boats should be equipped with a safety stop switch and a lanyard. Prior to starting the engine(s), attach the safety stop switch lanyard to your life jacket! Once the engine(s) are started, verify all engine and vessel gauges are in proper working order and engine/vessel functions are normal. Test the safety stop switch function before you head out.
The Mercury Racing Guide to Hi-Performance Operation recommends you be accompanied on your first ride by a person experienced in high performance boat operation and handling. I would go one further: I advise all owners of performance boats to attend a performance boat driving school. I spoke with Brad Schoenwald, an instructor at Tres Martin’s Performance Boat School, to get a feel for what you can expect to learn and experience.
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