Ask Barry: Get Your Paperwork in Order


Barry Paulsen provides a closer look at the forms boaters need to prepare. Don’t forget to get these items squared away!

Your boat is probably in good shape by now, especially if you followed our previous articles about winterization, tune ups and checking up on your boat in storage. The next task to tackle is making sure that everything around the boat is good to go, including all the proper paperwork.

The first piece of paperwork I look at is my insurance. Is it current? Does it list the marina that I will be in this year? Now is a great time to review your insurance to answer these questions, as well as if your coverage is enough for what you need. If you’re not sure about aspects of your boat’s insurance policy, reach out to our insurance partner Norman-Spencer at

Next, you want to check your registration. Is it paid for the year? In California, we pay every two years, and we have a muscle fee. However, my boat in Florida is different. I have to think about if my Ramp/Park Pass is current. Make sure you stay up to date on your state requirements and have the proper documents on board. This applies to California this year especially. The state is requiring Boater Cards, which we cover in another article. If you have a fishing license or need your towing companies phone number, those are good to have laminated and/or in a plastic bag. And, if you’re a multi-boat owner like myself, make copies.

Reviewing service records is another important step. Did you service the impeller last year? Not to go off on a tangent, but in a couple months, the service centers will be slammed. Get in now if you haven’t already to avoid the late rush. You could even save money with winter pricing.

Aside from having the right documentation, brushing up on your boating abilities is good practice to stay out of trouble on the water. Safety classes are getting more important every year. Boater Rewards actually has a list of courses and resources that should keep you sharp. I know that Coast Guard classes down at the marina were a huge help to me as a kid, and I have taken classes ever since.

You don’t have to follow my plan, but at least make a plan to get your paperwork ready. Your boating season could ride on it.

Want to ask a question for the next edition of Ask Barry? You can contact Barry at

Read more from the Boater Rewards March Newsletter: