Guard Auxiliary & Power Squadron Boat Inspections
Yearly Boat Inspections:
The Coast Guard Auxiliary & the US Power Squadron will
inspect your boat for free. To find a flotilla near you
This can be a very good thing in that if you
were ever later stopped by the actual Coast Guard & did not know what you
may have needed to be compliant with their rules, you could be fined up to
$1100. If you did not have life jackets, fire extinguishers & or
current flares you WILL be escorted back to the dock. if just your flares
are outdated, you
most likely would be turned around & directed to return to the dock until
you purchased new flares that were currently dated, & proved to the USCG that
you had done so, or had other required equipment on board. Under certain
circumstances, there could be hefty fines involved as indicated above.
This is a voluntary inspection, & is not a true Coast
Guard inspection, but if you passed this one, you will pass a true inspection.
Many times if the Coast Guard is randomly inspecting boats, they may bypass one
with a current decal in place. Something that we boaters need to be aware
of is the increased Coast Guard activity since they now are the US's eyes &
ears under the Homeland Security system for coastal waters. When they pull alongside with the
25' aluminum rigid zodiak type "Safe Boat" with LARGE twin Honda
a 50 caliber machine gun on the bow, you should know that the answer they expect
is "YES SIR."
There are different requirements on different size boats,
& where the boat is being used. The decal colors are changed each
year, & are the same color each year matching the vessel registration tab
& your vehicle license tabs. In this picture, you can see
remnants of the red 2004 decal. They are supposed to be placed on the
PORT, or left hand side, to you land-lubbers. And they are usually
placed low & forward on the side window. There is only one decal issued, so
the Starboard side has none.
Listed below is a reprint of what will be the list that
they work off, when inspecting a vessel. Some, (the LH ones) are
required, while (the RH ones) are strongly recommended. The N/A
means Not Applicable.
VESSEL SAFETY CHECK DECAL REQUIREMENTS
RECOMMENDED & DISCUSSION ITEMS
| 1. Display of Numbers
|| I. Marine
|| II. Dewatering
Device & backup
| 3. Personal
Floatation Devices (PFD)
|| III. Mounted Fire
| 4. Visual Distress
|| IV. Anchor & Line for
| 5. Fire Extinguishers
|| V. First Aid and PIW
| 6. Ventilation
|| VI. Inland Visual distress
| 7. Backfire Flame
|| VII. Capacity/Certificate of
| 8. Sound Producing
|| VIII. Discussion Items: as applies
| 9. Navigation Lights
a. Accident Reporting - Owner Responsibility
| 10. Pollution Placard
b. Offshore Operations
| 11. MARPOL Trash Placard
c. Nautical Charts / Navigation aids
| 12. Marine Sanitation
d. Survival Tips / First Aid
| 13. Navigation Rules
e. Fueling / Fuel Management
| 14. State and/or Local
f. Float Plan / Weather & Sea Conditions
| 15. Overall Vessel
Condition: as applies
g. Insurance Considerations
a. Deck Free of Hazards / Clean Bilge
h. Boating Check List
b. Electrical - Fuel Systems
i. Safe Boating Classes
c. Gallery - Heating Systems
Any check in the LH, No column will result in
failure to pass inspection. Listed below are explanations of the above
The boat's registration number must be permanently attached to each side of the
forward half of the boat, characters must be plain, vertical, block style, not
less than three (3) inches high, and in a color contrasting with the background.
A space or hyphen must separate the letters from the numbers. Place state
validation stickers according to State policy (e.g. FL 1234 AB or FL-4234-AB)
REGISTRATION/DOCUMENTATION; Registration or Documentation
papers must be on board and available. Documentation numbers must be
permanently marked on a visible part of the interior structure. The
documented boat's name and hailing Port must be displayed on the exterior hull
in letters not less than 4 inches in height.
FLOATATION DEVICES (PFDs); Acceptable PFDs (also known
as life jackets) must be Coast Guard approved and in good, serviceable
condition. A wearable PFD of a suitable size is required for each person
on the boat. Children must have properly fitted PFDs designed for
children. Wearable PFDs shall be "readily accessible."
Boats 16 feet or longer, must also have one Type IV (throwable) device, which
shall be "immediately available." PFDs shall NOT be
stored in unopened plastic packaging. For watercraft riders, the PFD must
be worn. An impact rating is recommended, but not required.
(4.) VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNALS;
Recreational boats 16 feet and over used on coast waters or the Great
Lakes are required to carry a minimum of either 1)three day and three night
pyrotechnic devices. 2)one minimum day non-pyrotechnic device (flag) and one
night non-pyrotechnic device (auto SOS light) or 3) a combination of 1) and 2).
recreational boats less than 16 feet on coastal waters or the Great Lakes need
only night visual distress signals when operating from sunset to sunrise.
It is recommended, but not required, that boats operating
on inland waters should have some means of making a suitable day and night
distress signal. The number and type of signals is best judged by
considering conditions under which the boat will be operating.
EXTINGUISHERS; Fire extinguishers are required if one of the
following exists: 1)Inboard engine(s); 2)Double bottom hulls not completely
sealed or not completely filled with floatation materials; 3) Closed living
space; 4) Closed stowage compartments that contain flammable materials; or 5)
Permanently installed fuel tanks. Recreational boats less than 26 feet,
and propelled by outboard motors are NOT required to have fire
extinguishers unless one or more of the conditions (2-5) listed above applies.
NOTE: Fire extinguishers must be accessible and verified as
Minimum number of extinguishers required
||No Fixed System
||With Fixed System
|Less than 26'
26' to less than 40'
40' to 65'
two B-1 or one B-2
three B-1 or one B-1 & one B-2
two B-1 or one B-2
Boats with gasoline engines in closed compartments, built after 1 August
1980 must have a powered ventilation system. Those built prior to that
date must have natural or powered ventilation. Boats with closed fuel tank
compartments built after 1 August 1978 must meet requirements by displaying a "certificate
of compliance." Boats built before that date must either have
natural or powered ventilation in the fuel tank compartment.
(7.) BACKFIRE FLAME
ARRESTER; All gasoline powered inboard/outboard or
inboard powered motor boats must be euipped with an approved backfire control
(8.) SOUND PRODUCING
DEVICES; To comply with Navigation Rules and for
distress signaling purposes, all boats must carry a sound producing device
(whistle, horn, siren, etc.) capable of a 4 second blast audible for 1/2 mile.
Boats larger than 39.4 ft are also required to have a bell (see Navigation
(9.) NAVIGATION LIGHTS;
All boats must be able to display navigation lights between sunset
and sunrise and in conditions of reduced visibility. Boats 16 feet or more
in length must have properly installed working navigation lights and an
all-around anchor light capable of being lit independently from the
red/green/white "running" lights.
PLACARD; Boats 26 feet and over with a machinery
compartment must display an oily waste "pollution" placard.
(11.) MARPOL TRASH
PLACARD; Boats 26 feet and over in length,
operating in U.S. navigable waters, must display a "MARPOL" trash
placard. Oceangoing boats 40 feet and over must also have a written trash
disposal plan available onboard.
(12.) MARINE SANITATION
DEVICE; Any installed toilet must be a Coast Guard
approved device. Overboard discharge outlets must be capable of being
(13.) NAVIGATION RULES;
Boats 39.4 feet and over must have on board a current copy of the Navigation
(14.) STATE AND LOCAL
REQUIREMENTS; These requirements must be met before the
"VESSEL: SAFETY CHECK" decal can be awarded. A boat must meet
the requirements of the state in which it is being examined.
(15.) OVERALL BOAT
CONDITION; As it applies to this Vessel.
Including, but not limited to:
Deck free of hazards and a clean bilge - The boat must be free from hazards,
in good overall condition, with bilges reasonably clean and visible hull
structure generally sound. The use of automobile parts on boat engines is
not acceptable. The engine horsepower must not exceed that shown on the
Electrical and Fuel Systems; The electrical system must be protected
by fuses or manual reset circuit breakers. Switches and fuse panels must
be protected from rain and water spray. Wiring must be in good condition,
properly installed and with no exposed areas or deteriorated insulation.
Batteries must be secured and terminals covered to prevent accidental arcing.
If installed, self circling or kill switch mechanism must be in proper
working order. All PWCs require an operating self circling
or kill switch mechanism.
Fuel Systems - Portable fuel tanks (normally 7
gallon capacity or less) must be constructed of a non-breakable material and
free from corrosion and leaks. All vents must be capable of being closed.
The tank must be secured and have a vapor-tight, leak-proof cap. Each
permanent fuel tank must be properly vented.
c. Galley and
Heating Systems - System and fuel tanks must be properly secured with no
flammable materials nearby.
Radio; This refers to a VHF radio. Even a handheld can be
used here, or at least as a backup to the main radio. In a distress situation
the Coast Guard can use your VHF transmit signal to locate you. If you use
a cell phone, to make a distress call they can not use it to locate you.
Device & backup; This refers to a bilge pump either
electric or hand operated. And the backup or auxiliary dewatering device
can even be that 5 quart bucket with a rope attached, that you use to get water
with. Or even your P!SS can will qualify.
& Line for Area; This is one
that most inspectors think should really be an required item. And as far
as most boaters go it may be the one thing that is standard equipment on their
I-VII. RECOMMENDED AND DISCUSSION ITEMS; Not required
for the award of the Vessel Safety Check" decal. For the very
best boaters, we recommend these additional items. Meeting these
requirements reflects your concern for Boating Safety.
** Person in the Water kit consists of one extra
wearable PFD and a throwable type IV PFD w/line.
For more information: ask your Vessel Examiner, or Visit
http://www.safetySeal.net or call the Boating
Safety Hotline 1-800-368-5647
Explanations & tips to
some of the above items.
Not shown here, but on the upper part of the inspection paper is a place for the
inspector to mark whether you have ever taken a Boater Safety Class. This
is something that every boater should consider. It also usually gets you a
10% boat insurance discount.
(#2) The registration numbers & HIN
(Hull Identification Numbers) on your state registration MUST
mach the boat's, otherwise it may appear to be a stolen boat.
(#3) The inflatable PFD DO NOT COUNT if
they are NOT being worn. The PFDs have to be in good condition.
If they are the older Kapok type, the examiner may hug it against their chest.
What they are doing is trying to hear if the inner plastic liner is punctured
& leaking air our. The newer foam ones, of course are different.
(#4) The expiration dates on the flares need to
be current. It is also advisable that if the date was just barely enough
to pass the inspection, but you intend on boating beyond that date you will need
to get new flares. For instance if you get your boat inspected in March,
& the flares are good until April, but you plan on boating the rest of the
summer, you had better get new flares. As the flares were good when the
boat was inspected, but not good when the Coast Guard actually inspected you in
August. Do not throw the outdated ones away, but keep them with your
signaling kit & fire (or try to) first. Also as for a visual distress
signaling device, there is an official orange flag with a black ball &
square on it for $9.00. However you can find ski distress flags very
similar except no ball/square for around $3.00.
(#4) The fire extinguishers need to
occasionally be removed from their mounting & shook enough to be sure the
dry powder inside does not become compacted from the pounding taken on most
boats. If it is not loose enough to be forced out when you need it, the
extinguisher is of no value. If the chemical is compacted, all you will
get out when you activate the lever will be the compressed dry nitrogen & no
(#5) Ventilation is of little concern to
an outboarder, but to a I/O or inboard user, there should be a placard near the
ignition switch, reminding you to run the engine compartment blowers prior to
attempting to start the motor. Gasoline fumes are heavier than air &
can lie in the bilge, when you hit the starter a spark may ignite the gasoline
vapor. Stories of boats exploding & burning to the waterline while
still at the dock are not unheard of.
(#8) Sound producing devices & their
use is something you need to understand. If you are in a waterway where a
tug or large vessel is approaching you & they blow their horn, you need to
understand what they intend to do & you are required to return an
LeeRoy Wisner All Rights Reserved
Last updated 01-06-2006
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