ARE ALL PASSENGERS REQUIRED TO WEAR A LIFE JACKET OR HAVE ONE AVAILABLE FOR EACH PASSENGER?

Question: Are all passengers required to wear a life jacket or have one available for each passenger?

Answer: Each state has their own laws about the wear of life jackets. For more information, contact your state boating agency. Also, any boat over 16' is required to carry (except for canoes and kayaks) a Type IV throwable device.

As for children, the Coast Guard requires that each child under 13 wears a life jacket unless they are in a enclosed cabin or below decks. If a state has a different law for children than the Coast Guard, then the state law is followed in waters that the state has jurisdiction.

For a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) from the Coast Guard Auxiliary, you will need to show each passenger has a life jacket that is Coast Guard approved. It is recommended that everyone always wears a life jacket. If you are not wearing one, you need to have it readily accessible and in working condition. A life jacket will not save your life if you cannot access it or it will not function.

For more information about life jackets, visit the Federal Requirements Brochure, and look at pages 9-16.

CAN A BOAT USE ROPE LIGHTS AS NAVIGATION LIGHTS?

Question: Recently when I was out underway I say a boat that had red and green rope lighting for nav lights. The lighting was were your rub rail would be. It appeared that the rope was close to giving proper angle. They ended the lights on the curve of the bow. Would something like this be acceptable?

Answer: It sounds like what you are seeing are the new LED lights. If the boat is new and if the lights were installed by the manufacturer, then it would pass an inspection for a Vessel Safety Check (VSC). If someone installed a piece of rope light, then they are not. Lights need to be USCG approved and each side should shine 112.5° from center.

WHAT NAVIGATION LIGHTS ARE REQUIRED FOR 16' OPEN ALUMINUM SKIFFS POWERED BY OUTBOARD MOTORS WHEN THE BOATS WERE MANUFACTURED WITH NO LIGHTS?

Question: What navigation lights are required for 16' open aluminum skiffs powered by outboard motors when the boats were manufactured with no lights? These skiffs have no electrical systems and carry no batteries.

Answer: 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"� light.

The requirements of a Vessel Safety Check (VSC), you will need to install navigation lights. There are many places where you can have lights with a proper electrical source installed, or depending on your skill level, you can do it. My recommendation is to contact a marine supply store. They should carry the navigation lights you need. They should also be able to recommend where you can have the lights installed. All installed lights should meet Coast Guard regulations for navigation lighting.

For more information about navigation lighting, please visit page 27 of the A Boater's Guide to Federal Requirements for Recreational Boating and Safety Tips brochure.

Visit our Online Virtual Vessel Safety Check webpage to see what you vessel needs to be safe and to successfully complete a VSC.

IS THERE SOME PLACE WHERE I CAN BORROW CHILDREN LIFE VESTS?

Question: Is there some place where I can borrow children life vests?

Answer: I don't know of any place where you can borrow life jackets. Some places that rent boats or other types of crafts (kayaks, canoes, etc) may provide life jackets. However, I strongly recommend that you purchase life jackets. Most life jackets are relatively inexpensive. They can be purchased at many large retails stores, boating supply stores, sport stores, or online. It is worth the peace of mind knowing you have a new and reliable life jacket.

Here is more information about how to select a life jacket for children - Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for

ABS CERTIFICATION, COULD YOU POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

Question: I own and operate a pontoon dredge in the state of Florida. I am looking at bidding Corp of Engineer projects which contain language of a "Coast Guard inspected Vessel" and an "ABS Certification" Could you point me in the specific, right direction to accomplish the two? Thank You

Answer: The best course of action would be for you to contact the Army Corps of Engineers directly.

If you want to do business in Florida, you would be working with the Jacksonville, Fl office in the South Atlantic Division. The main contact number for this office is (800) 291-9405 or (904) 232-2234.

To find the information you are looking for, you should contact their Contract Division at (904) 232-3735. They should be able to answer your questions and inform you of the processes, requirements and procedures necessary to bid on contracts.

Another resource that might be of interest is the Interested in doing business with the Corps? web page. If you want to do business in an area outside of Florida, you should contact the appropriate office.

04 Sep 12         Categories: Uncategorized, General

BOW RIDING QUESTION

Question: I have a 21 foot cuddy cabin and I was wondering if someone is allowed to ride on the bow while boat is in motion, I have a rail that goes around the entire bow.

Answer: There is no Federal Law that we are aware of and you would need to check with your local and state authorities to see if they have one.

Safety would dictate some judgment needed here and if there is an appearance of danger a voyage could be terminated. An example would be high speed and waves, wakes, or obstacle's that would cause a sudden turn of the boat that could cause a person to fall in the water and possibly be severely injured or even killed by the boat's propeller.

14 Aug 12         Categories: Safety

CAN FOREIGN VESSEL'S GET VSC

Question: May a 54' vessel registered for pleasure in New Zealand and visiting the United States receive a VSC decal?

Answer: I'm sorry but under our manual's list of restrictions: "Vessels Not Eligible For Vessel Safety Check:" is "Vessels registered in countries other than the United States and its territories."

13 Aug 12         Categories: VSC Non-Safety

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ON 34 FOOT BOAT

Question: I have a type A,B,C extinguisher on the 34 foot sailboat( diesel engine). I am told I also need a type B2. Is this correct?

Answer: It's almost correct, this is what the rules state for your size boat:

Minimum number of extinguishers required:

Boat Length - No Fixed System - With Fixed System

26' to less than 40' - two B-1 or one B-2 - one B-1

So two B-1 extinguishers or one B2 would be acceptable unless you have a fixed system which you did not mention.

13 Aug 12         Categories: Safety

IS LINE REQUIRED FOR THROWABLE DEVICE?

Question: Does your Throwable device need a line or rope attached to it?

Answer: The rule states that Throwable devices shall be "immediately available." But our training shows that good practice is to have a line attached so you can pull the throwable back in if you do not get it close to the target and to be able to pull the person back to the boat as well.

08 Aug 12         Categories: Safety

CAPACITY PLATE REQUIREMENT

Question: Is the vessel's passenger capacity required to be visible ? If not it should be listed on your 15 point

DO I NEED A OAR OR PADDLE?

Question: I have heard that an oar/paddle is required safety equipment on power boats up to a certain length. I cannot find any reference to this requirement and am wondering if this is really a required item?

Answer: This was a requirement years ago, before 2000 and this is what I found:

"All boats less than 16 feet in length must carry a second method of propulsion. A paddle, oar, water ski, or other suitable device meets this requirement."

It is no longer a requirement for the award of our VSC Decal.

DOES A FIRE EXTINGUISHER EXPIRE?

Question: How long is a 2006 extinguisher whose gauge is "still in the green" acceptable for a passing inspection?

Answer: Current guidance from the USCG Office of Boating Safety directs that the following items should be included in the annual maintenance of non-rechargeable portable extinguishers:

1. Verify that 12 years has not lapsed from the manufacture date marked on the extinguisher (date stamped on the bottom of the cylinder).
2. Check that the pressure gauge or pressure indicator is in the operable range. 
3. Verify there is no physical damage to the extinguisher or discharge hose (if provided).
4. Check for missing or broken safety seals or tamper indicators.
5. Examine the extinguisher for obvious signs of corrosion, leakage or clogged discharge nozzle.

If any deficiencies are noted, the non-rechargeable extinguisher should be replaced.

Click here for a PDF file titled Portable Fire Extinguisher Inspection And Maintenance FAQ. (PDF | requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

MAIL ME A VSC DECAL?

Question: I just had my boat checked last weekend at Lake Washington. It passed but they said that they didn't have any safety check stickers for my window. They said that one could be mailed. How would I get it?

Answer: The Vessel Examiner should have left you a copy of the Vessel Safety Check with his or her name and phone number on it. It is against our policy to mail or simply give the VSC decal to the boater without actually being there to personally apply the decal or supervise it being applied.

Call the volunteer and tell him or her what I said in this reply and that it must be either applied or supervised by the volunteer.

WHAT AUTHORITY FOR RANDOM BOARDINGS?

Question: I know the Coast Guard and other Federal agencies acting under your authority can conduct random stops for vessel safety checks of recreational boats, but I cannot find the legal authority for these stops. Can you point me in the direction of the appropriate Code of Federal Regulations?

Answer: Any law enforcement agency can stop a vessel under a state or local authority or like the Coast Guard, a federal authority. Those stops are not "Vessel Safety Checks" which we in the Auxiliary do and we only perform them with the permission of the boater and we are not to do them on the water while underway. When we do a vessel safety check, there is no "ticket" given nor is the information turned over to the Coast Guard for any violations we may find, we simply show the boater what they need to do to be compliant and not get a ticket on the water for non-compliance.

An important Coast Guard mission is maritime law enforcement on the high seas and on water subject to Federal laws. Of particular interest are laws dealing with the 200-mile Fishery Conservation Zone, drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and safety and water pollution.

To enforce these laws, the Coast Guard is empowered to board and inspect vessels. Many of the laws can be successfully enforced only by boarding a vessel while it is underway. Boarding's are not necessarily based on suspicion that a violation already exists aboard the vessel. Their purpose is to prevent violations. The courts have consistently upheld this authority. All Coast Guard officers and petty officers are Federal law enforcement officers and they may board any United States vessel anywhere.

PFD SPEED RATING FOR PWC

Question: Is a PFD for a PWC operator required to be strength tested to 100mph if the PWC can exceed

CAPACITY OF BOAT AND SIZE OF ENGINE FOR BOAT

Question: I need the weight and motor specs and size on a 1968 bonito 14ft any info would be great.

Answer: For the capacity of your boat:

If the boat does not have a capacity plate, the following formula would be used:

Boat length multiplied by boat width divided by 15
(L x W/15)=
Number of people that can be safely carried in calm waters.

A suitable motor for the size of the boat:

15 - 20 hp (80-120 lbs)
Powerful workhorses that are still considered a part of the small outboard hp class. Outboard engines in this hp range are available primarily in 4-stroke configurations but may limited availability in 2-stroke configurations. Due to 2006 EPA regulations, outboard manufacturers are now required to build cleaner more efficient engines that meet strict emission standards. This hp range is quite popular for use with inflatable boats 10-14ft, aluminum fishing boats 12-16ft, jon boats 12-16ft in length, fiberglass boats 12-16ft in length. These hulls typically require a 15” short shaft length but may require a 20” shaft length as you approach 16ft in length. These hulls typically range in weight from 125-575+ lbs.

OUTDATED FLARES

PADDLE CRAFT VESSEL EXAMS

Question: Do you offer safety checks on canoes & kayaks? There is no information on safety checks for these only for power boats.

Answer: Contact any power boat vessel examiner in the Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons, and they will arrange for your Paddle Craft Vessel Safety Check. Use the I Want a VSC tool on our website to contact a local vessel examiner.

CAN I USE MY BOAT FROM CANADA IN US WATERS?

Question: In Ontario Canada, my 10' 2" inflatable Zodiac dinghy, powered by a 9.8 HP Nissan outboard, does not require registration numbers. Do I have to attach registration numbers to use it in Florida coastal waters? If so, how can I get the dinghy registered? I will be vacationing in Florida this summer. Do I need to register my vessel there?

Answer: "Florida recognizes valid registration certificates and numbers issued to visiting boaters for a period of 90 days. An owner who intends to use his vessel in Florida longer than 90 days must register it with a county tax collector. However, he may retain the out-of-state registration number if he plans to return to his home state within a reasonable period of time."

This was taken from the Florida website and Although it says recognizes valid registration certificates and numbers issued to visiting boaters for a period of ninety days, I would interpret that to mean that you are good to go, but I would have in my possession a copy of the ordinance or law section from an official publication supporting your assertion that Ontario does not require a registration for your specific class and power. Don’t depend on the law enforcement personnel to know what the rules are in another country. Taken from the Canadian regulations quoted below. A vessel owner of a craft of your size and description may voluntarily register their vessel, thus giving you the wise choice: Register in Canada and you are all set in Florida for vacation up to 90 days. That would be the best recommendation I can give you.

"Should the owners of such a vessel wish to register their vessel, they are free to do so voluntarily. A new simplified registration process has been created for human-powered vessels, or sailing vessels and small power-driven vessels with propulsion motors less than 10 hp (7.5 kW) for those who wish to register voluntarily. The registration process will continue to be delivered by the Vessel Registration office in the National Capital Region."

LOST REGISTRATION IN WASHINGTON STATE

Question: I live in WA state and I just bought a 14' runaboat. The person I purchased it from lost the title but did write something out. My question is, do I have to go to the DOL and apply for an affidavit of lost title?

Answer: I would suggest that you start on the Washington State Boating website on this page:

http://boat.wa.gov/register.asp

That page has information that should point you in the right direction.