Boat Inspections are a Guarantee
If you are out in your boat, tooling around chances are you will get pulled over for a safety inspection. At first this may seem like an annoyance but really it is for our protection. Of course when we are on the water we always want to be safe but that does not mean everyone thinks the same way as us, hence the random safety inspections.
First we need to talk about boat registration and marking. I am referring specifically to Florida laws and you should always review the regulations in your state. All vessels, with the exception of non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet in length, non-motor-powered canoes, kayaks, racing shells or rowing sculls, regardless of length, must be registered. Registration numbers must be displayed on the forward half of the vessel on both sides above the waterline. The numbers must be bold block letters at least 3″ high in a color contrasting to the hull. The vessel registration decal that you receive by the state upon registration displayed within 6 inches of, either before or after, the registration numbers on the port (left) side. Also keep you must have the registration on the boat at all times. And a word to the wise, keep the registration in a water proof bag. I also recommend having you driver’s license too (keep that in the water proof bag as well).
So what do we need on board? Probably one of the most important things is an approved life vest for each person in the boat. The life vest must be USCG-approved type I, II, or III. Along with a life vest for each person you need one throw-able Type IV device. This is needed in the event anyone falls overboard and the flotation device can immediately thrown to the person until the boat can get back to get them safely back aboard.
Next item on our list is a USCG-approved B-1 type fire extinguisher. Because the boat we looking into getting is an inboard, has a built-in fuel tank, and has open areas between the hull and deck where flammable or explosive gases could accumulate we must have a USCG-approved and serviceable condition fire condition.
Another item is a sound producing device such as a bell, horn or whistle. The sound-producing device need not meet any particular specifications, as long as the vessel can produce signals required by the navigational rules. All the boats that I am looking into come with an electronic horn as a standard but in the past I have also carried a air horn just in case of electrical malfunctions.
The last mandatory item is navigational lighting. Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). For our boat we will need an all-round white light and sidelights. The all-round white light which is usually seen on the stern of the boat is a white light that shines in 360 degrees around the boat. The sidelights are red and green lights which are visible to another vessel approaching from the side or head-on. The red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side; the green indicates a vessel’s starboard (right) side. For further explanation see Nighttime Navigation.
To summarize here is a list of items that I will have on my boat:
- USCG-approved type I, II, or III life vest, one for each person on the boat or being towed
- One throw-able Type IV device
- USCG-approved B-1 type fire extinguisher
- Boat horn
- Air horn
- All-round white light
- Paddle (recommended in case of engine failure)
- Anchor and a sufficient amount of anchor line (another recommendation)
I hope this helps. Of course me being in Florida this represents everything I will need to be safe and compliant on Florida waters and for my type of boat and the activities I will be doing. Always keep up with your state laws and please, always think safe thoughts while on the water.
Experience the Butta