After a lengthy wait, that lasted some long nine months, summer is already here. And now that two strange seasons in which the pandemic might have frustrated your plans are over, it might be a good time to make sure your paperwork is in order before setting sail. So stay with us and find out what the Coast Guard boat Requirements are before diving in!
Coast Guard Boat Requirements
Many of the safety standards the United States Coast Guard (USCG) sets are decided by the length of the vessel.
Generally, boats under 16 feet do not go as deep in the ocean as bigger vessels. Bearing that in mind, the Coast Guard requires small watercraft to have every passenger on the boat with a readily-accessible flotation device. If the boat surpasses the 16 feet limit, on the other hand, you should also have a throwable device (like an inflatable boat) equipped as well, apart from the flotation device.
When it comes to fire extinguishers, the size does not matter: every vessel should be equipped with one as long as they have “enclosed fuel or engine spaces, enclosed living spaces, or permanent fuel tanks”. “Permanent” is defined as “not movable by one person”.
Just to be clear, if there is an area of your vessel that might be “fire-friendly”, then you should carry one on your boat. A plastic kayak, for instance, will not need one. A large ship with an engine room, however, will definitely do.
Visual Distress Signals on Coastal Waters
If you operate your vessel between dawn and dusk, you will be required to be equipped with night signals on your boat. If your watercraft is bigger than 16 feet then you will need either a hand flare that can be used for three days and nights or an orange flag (for the day) and an electric SOS signal light (for the night).
The general rule of thumb is to make sure you have something within your boat that can be seen both day and night in the case of an emergency.
Do not Forget Your Documentation!
Other than these common-sense safety requirements, you will also need some documentation to comply with the law. If you want to have the paperwork sorted for you or you just want to make sure everything is in the order you can use our help.
At the Maritime Documentation Center, we made that easier for you with our encrypted forms. We also have original articles to assist every captain before setting sail. Welcome aboard!