What you check is determined by what boat you're talking about. If it is a boat that you or someone you know well normally uses, then the need for a thorough walk through is far lower. For instance, later this month I'll be helping deliver a catamaran my friend owns from the Bahamas, but I don't think a thorough walk through is necessary, since it is a boat I know fairly well and that I know the owner of and know how he maintains it.
A couple of years ago I helped a friend move a new boat to her home harbor, and I went over that boat with a fine-toothed comb, since she and I were both new to the boat, and had little true idea of what shape she was really in. A good place to start when dealing with an unknown boat is the Boat Inspection Trip Tips list I wrote. Since you'll be sailing on the boat, you'll want to add things like checking for the proper tools, spares, emergency supplies in addition to what is on that list.
Tools—do you have a proper toolset aboard that will allow you to make basic repairs and replace important spares, like the engine raw water impeller?
Spares—do you have the proper spares, like fuel filters, engine raw water impellers, etc.
Emergency Gear—do you have the required flares, PFDs, etc. Do you have wooden plugs for the various through hulls and know where the through hulls are all located.
Miscellaneous—Do you know where the fire extinguishers are? Do you know where the main battery switch is? Do you know where the propane tanks are? Do you know where the emergency tiller is kept and how it mounts?
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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.