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Equipment Requirements
PFDs, Fire Extinguishers and Sound Producing Devices

As a general rule, all boats must carry the following equipment:

 
1.  PFDs (personal flotation devices, or life jackets) are required to be on board, readily accessible, and of the appropriate size for each person on the craft. 
2.  The boat must be equipped with a sound-producing device (such as a whistle, horn or bell) 
3.  The boat must show running lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility.
 

Note: All children 12 and younger must wear a life vest when in a boat underway.  
 
Equipment requirements vary with the size of the boat and its source of power. Sailboats with motors, whether inboard or outboard, are considered motorboats. Personal watercraft (PWC) are also considered motorboats. Boats not properly equipped will face a fine. 

 

Below are the equipment requirements based on your boat's length and type of propulsion: 

Sailboats and Manually Propelled Boats (Paddlecraft)
Shall carry the following equipment:

1) Personal flotation devices (PFDs) 
  • Boats less than 16 feet in length and all canoes, rafts and kayaks, shall carry one Type I, II or III wearable device of suitable size for each person on board.
  • Boats 16 feet and over, except canoes and kayaks, must have one Type I, II or III device of suitable size aboard for each person as well as one type IV throwable device.
  • The Type I, II and III devices shall be readily accessible to all persons on board. The Type IV device shall be immediately available for use.
 
2) Navigation lights (required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility).
  • For manually propelled boats, a lantern showing a white light, to be temporarily exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.
  • For sailboats
  • Sound devices: A boat less than39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound signalling device such as a whistle or compressed air horn.
 
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Lighting (For All Boat Types)
All boats must show running lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility. A sailboat operating under power or under power and sail must display the proper lights for a powerboat. This section describes the inland and international light requirements for boats less than 20 meters (65 feet 7 inches). In many cases, the lights prescribed for a particular boat are the same under both rules. Any exceptions are noted.
 
Power Driven Boats
Figure 1&2, Color Code
On inland and international waters, a power-driven boat shall exhibit navigation lights as shown in 1. Vessels less than 12 meters (39 feet 4 inches) may show the lights shown in 1 or 2. In international waters a power-driven boat of less than 7 meters (23 feet) in length whose maximum speed cannot exceed 7 knots may exhibit an all-round white light and if practicable, also exhibit side lights.
Range & Degree of Visibility of Lights
 
Sailboats and Boat Under Oars
NOTE: A sailboat under machinery power and sail is considered a power-driven boat.
 
Figure 3, 4 and 5 Sailboat LightingSailboats under sail alone must exhibit navigation lights shown in 3, 4 or 5. A sailboat of less than 7 meters (23 feet) in length may carry an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision (see figure 6c).
A boat under oars may: (a) display those lights prescribed for sailboats or (b) have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision (see figure 6).
 
Anchor Lights
Figure 6, Anchor Lights, A, B & CPower-driven boats and sailboats at anchor must display anchor lights. An anchor light is an all-round white light visible for 2 miles and exhibited forward where it can best be seen. Vessels less than 7 meters (23 feet) are not required to display anchor lights unless anchored in or near a narrow channel, fairway, or anchorage, or where other vessels normally navigate. Anchor lights are not required on vessels less than 20 meters anchored in a special anchorage area designated by the Secretary of Transportation.
 
Day Shape
Figure 7, Day ShapeVessels under sail also being propelled by machinery must exhibit forward, where it can best be seen, a conical shape, apex down (See Figure 7). Vessels less than 12 meters are not required to exhibit the day shape in inland waters.
 
Automotive Equipment
Equipment such as starter motors, alternators/generators and air cleaners are not intrinsically safe and should not be used in gasoline powered boats.
 
Equipment Requirements for Motorboats Less Than 16 Feet in Length

Shall carry the following equipment:

 
1) Personal flotation devices:

  • Boats less than 16 feet in length and all canoes, rafts and kayaks, shall carry one Type I, II or III wearable device of suitable size for each person on board.
2) Sound devices: A boat less than39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound signalling device such as a whistle or compressed air horn.
 
3) One B-I type approved fire extinguisher when no fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery space(s). (Fire extinguishers are not required on outboard motorboats less than 26 feet in length and of open construction.) No B-I type extinguisher is required if an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery space(s).
 
4) An approved carburetor backfire flame arrestor for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwhale.
 
5) An effective muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.
 
6) A ventilation system, the particular type dependent upon when the boat was built.
 
7) Lights (required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility).
 
Equipment Requirements for Motorboats 16 Feet to Less Than 26 Feet
Shall carry the following equipment:
  1. One Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of an appropriate size readily accessible for the intended wearer - Type I, II or III wearable for each person on board and one Type IV.
  2. Sound devices: A boat less than39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound signalling device such as a whistle or compressed air horn.
  3. One B-I type approved fire extinguisher when no fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery space(s). (Fire extinguishers are not required on outboard motorboats less than 26 feet in length and of open construction, unless the boat has a built-in fuel tank.) No B-I type extinguisher is required if an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery space(s).
  4. An approved carburetor backfire flame arrestor for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwhale.
  5. An effective muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.
  6. A ventilation system, the particular type dependent upon when the boat was built.
  7. Lights (required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility).
 

 

Equipment Requirements for Motorboats 26 Feet to Less Than 40 Feet
Shall carry the following equipment:
  1. One Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of an appropriate size readily accessible for the intended wearer - Type I, II or III wearable for each person on board and one Type IV.
  2. Sound devices: A boat less than 39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound signalling device such as a whistle or compressed air horn.
  3. Two B-I type approved portable fire extinguisher or one B-II type approved portable fire extinguisher. When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed, one less B-I type extinguisher is required.
  4. An approved carburetor backfire flame arrestor for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwhale.
  5. An effective muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.
  6. A ventilation system, the particular type dependent upon when the boat was built.
  7. Lights (required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility).
 
      
Equipment Requirements for Motorboats 40 Feet to Less Than 65 Feet

Shall carry the following equipment:

  1. One Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of an appropriate size readily accessible for the intended wearer - Type I, II or III wearable for each person on board and one Type IV.
  2. Sound devices: A boat of more than 39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) but less than 65 feet 6 inches (20 meters) must carry on board a whistle and a bell. The whistle and the bell must comply with the existing Federal specifications.
  3. Three B-I type approved portable fire extinguisher or one B-I type approved portable fire extinguisher plus one B-II type approved portable fire extinguisher. When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed, one less B-I type extinguisher is required.
  4. An approved carburetor backfire flame arrestor for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwhale.
  5. An effective muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.
  6. A ventilation system, the particular type dependent upon when the boat was built.
  7. Lights (required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility).

 

Ventilation (Fuel Vapors)
Any boat using a fuel with a flashpoint of 110 (degrees) or less (gasoline, but not diesel) that has any enclosed engine or fuel tank spaces (not open to the atmosphere) must have an efficient ventilation system to disperse VENTILATION (Fuel Vapors)explosive gases. Natural ventilation consists of at least two ventilation ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent. At least one exhaust duct extending to the lower portion of the bilge and at least one intake (supply) duct extending to a point midway to the bilge or at least below the level of the carburetor air intake is required. Boats built after July 31, 1980 are required to have powered ventilation (exhaust blower) for engine compartments that are not open to the atmosphere. Such boats are required to display a warning label such as this:
“Warning - gasoline vapors can explode. Before starting engine operate blower for 4 minutes and check engine compartment bilge for gasoline vapors. Gas vapors contained in an enclosed space make a boat a potential bomb waiting to go off!”
Note: Check the galley! Butane and propane are even more dangerous than gasoline. Heavier than air, they flow rapidly into the lower part of the boat and are extremely difficult to remove. If you cook with a liquid petroleum gas such as propane or butane, be sure the fuel tank enclosure is properly ventilated.
 
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Recommended Equipment
Along with the required equipment, the State Marine Board recommends carrying the following equipment in case of an emergency:
1. Compass
2. Anchor
3. Fenders
4. Flashlight (with extra batteries) 
5. Extra line
6. Bucket
7. Bilge Pump & Pads
8. First Aid Kit
9. Paddle
10. Tool Kit
11. Two-Way Radio 
12. Visual Distress Signals* (required in federally controlled waters, from the mouth of the columbia River to the Pacific Ocean) 
13. Cell phone 
14. Marine VHF radio* (if operating in coastal waters)
15. Port-a-potty (which can be emptied using a boating facility's pumpout/dump station)
 
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