I wouldn't put a check valve in the line, since a check valve increases the work the engine water pump has to do to get water into the engine—not generally a good idea.
Also curious, but why did you not close the raw water intake on the boat before hauling it???
As the others have said, it should self-prime, and if it isn't self priming, then you've probably got something else going on.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.