Boater Info

Requirements
PREPARATI

Equipment requirements vary with the size of the boat and its source of power. The type of construction and the motor itself determine the equipment requirements. Motorboats when used in racing and similar activities are generally exempt from carrying a whistle, fire extinguisher and muffler. Sailboats with motors, whether inboard or outboard, are considered motorboats.Personal watercraft (PWC) are also considered motorboats. Boats that are not properly equipped can be fined.

 

NOTE: It is a federal requirement that boats operating on coastal waters be equipped with visual distress signals.

The rules governing visual distress signals (VDS) vary according to the size of boat and its type of propulsion.  For further information, ask for a copy of "Visual Distress Signals for Recreational Boaters" from your local U.S. Coast Guard station.


 

Sailboats and Manually Propelled Boats (Paddlecraft & Drift Boats)
Class AImage of a drift boat.


1. Life Jackets:

Sailboats less than 16 feet in length and all paddlecraft (canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, etc.) need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket.


 

Sailboats 16 feet and over must also carry one, Type IV throwable cushion.


 

2. Sound devices:

A boat less than 39 feet 4 inches (or 12 meters) long, must carry a whistle or a compressed air horn.  It's easy to attach a whistle to a life jacket!  Both are required equiment.


 

 

3. Navigation lights:

Required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility.


See “Lighting” below.

 


 


Motorboats 16 feet to less than 26 feet
Class 1

 

1. Life Jackets:
Boats under 26 feet
need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible.  The boat must also carry a Type IV throwable cushion.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket while on an open deckor cockpit when a boat is underway or being towed.

*Motorboats less than 16 feet in length and all paddlecraft need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible, but are not required to carry a Type IV throwable cushion.

2. Sound device: A boat less than 39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound producing device such as a whistle or compressed air horn. It's easy to attach a whistle to a life jacket!  Both are required equiment.

3. One B-I type approved fire extinguisher when no fixed fire extinguishing system is installed. (Fire extinguishers are not required on outboard motorboats of open construction less than 26 feet in length.) A B-I type extinguisher is not required if an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in machinery spaces.

4. Carburetor backfire flame arrestor is required for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwale.

5. Muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.

6. Ventilation system. The particular type depends on when the boat was built. See “Ventilation” below.

7. Lights (see below).
 
NOTE: Lighting is required only when the boat is underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise and during restricted visibility.
 



Motorboats 26 feet and less than 40 feet
Class 2

1. Life Jackets:
Boats 26 feet  to 40 feet
need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible.  The boat must also carry a Type IV throwable cushion that is readily accessible.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times while on an open deckor cockpit when a boat is underway or being towed.
2. Sound device. A boat less than 39 feet 4 inches (12 meters) must carry a sound producing device such as a whistle or compressed air horn.  Both are even better for larger boats.  Many larger boats have built-in horms.

3. Two B-I type approved fire extinguishers or one B-II type approved portable fired extinguisher. When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed, one less B-I type is required.

4. Carburetor backfire flame arrestor is required for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwale.

5. Muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.

6. Ventilation system. The particular type dependent upon when the boat was built. See “Ventilation” below.

7. Lights (see below).
 
NOTE: Lighting is required only when the boat is underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise and during restricted visibility.
 


Motorboats 40 feet and less than 65 feet
Class 3
 
1. Boats 40 feet and under 65 feet need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible.  The boat must also carry a Type IV throwable cushion that is readily accessible.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times while on an open deckor cockpit when a boat is underway or being towed.
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 bell and a whistle, or a horn. The whistle and the bell must comply with existing federal specifications.

3. Three B-I type approved fire extinguishers or one
B-I type plus one B-II type approved portable fire extinguishers. When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed, one less B-I type is required.

 
4. Carburetor backfire flame arrestor is required for inboard motors not exposed to the atmosphere above the gunwale.

 
5. Muffling system for the exhaust of each internal combustion engine.

6. Ventilation system. The particular type dependent upon when the boat was built. See “Ventilation” below.

7. Lights (see below).
 
NOTE: Lighting is required only when the boat is underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise and during restricted visibility.



 
Sound Producing DevicesAir horns, bell and whistle graphic

In periods of reduced visibility or whenever a vessel operator needs to signal his or her intentions or position, a sound producing device is essential. Know the rules for meeting head-on, crossing, and overtaking situations. The sound producing device may be a whistle, horn, or bell that is audible for 1/2 mile. All vessels on state and federally controlled waters must have a sound producing device to communicate.
 
Common sound signals
Some common sound signals that you should be familiar with as a recreational boater are:
• A short blast, lasting one second.
• A prolonged blast lasting 4-6 seconds.
 
Changing direction
One short blast tells other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my port (left side).”
Two short blasts tell other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my starboard (right) side.”
Three short blasts tell other boaters, “I am backing up.”
 
Restricted Visibility
One prolonged blast at intervals of not more than two minutes is a signal used by power driven vessels when underway.
One prolonged blast, plus 2 short blasts at intervals of not more than two minutes apart, is the signal used by sailing vessels.
 
WarningMake way for large commercial vessels -who will sound their horns to boaters to move out of the main shipping channel.

One prolonged blast is a warning signal (for example, used when coming around a blind bend or exiting a slip).
Five or more short rapid blasts signal danger, or signal that you do not understand or that you disagree with the other boater’s intentions.
 


Life Jackets
All boats must carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device/life jacket for every person aboard. Persons being towed are considered on board. PFDs must be in serviceable condition. They must not have any rips, tears, or broken straps. All life jackets must also be kept “readily accessible” for use in an emergency situation. Life jackets in a plastic bag or in a storage compartment are not readily accessible. Each person on board a personal watercraft must wear a Type I, II or III personal flotation device.
Children age 12 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard
approved life jacket at all times while on an open deck
or cockpit of vessels that are underway or when being
towed. Inflatable PFD’s are not approved for children under 16.

Non-swimmers should always wear life jackets.
All devices must be a suitable size for the intended wearer and approved for the appropriate activity.
All boats 16 feet in length or longer must have one U.S. Coast Guard approved Type IV (throwable cushion) on board and it must be readily accessible for use.
• Life jackets are required to be worn in Class III or higher whitewater rapids.
 
Inflatable PFDsInflatable Life Jacket image
Inflatable PFDs are becoming increasingly popular because they are comfortable, lightweight, and non-restrictive. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for high impact sports such as riding a personal watercraft.
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Type I -OffshoreType I Offshore Life Jacket image
Intended for use offshore or potentially rough seas where quick rescue may not be likely. It has a greater flotation value than other types and is designed to turn an unconscious person face up. It is reversible and is available in two sizes, adult (90 lbs. or more) and child (less than 90 lbs.).
 
Type II -InlandType II life jacket image
Designed for general boating activities and is suitable for protected areas, where rough water is not likely to be found or for activities were quick rescue is available. Not suitable for extended survival in rougher cold water. This type of jacket is less buoyant than Type I, and is designed to turn an unconscious person to a vertical or slightly face-up position. These life jackets are available in several sizes.
 
Type III -GeneralType III life jacket image
Intended for general boating activities or specialized activities such as canoeing, skiing or fishing due to the freedom of movement it allows. Type III PFDs are suitable for protected areas where rough water is not likely or where quick rescue is available. This type of life jacket is less buoyant than a Type II PFD. It is designed to provide a stable face-up position in calm water for a conscious person floating with their head tilted back. It is not intended to turn or maintain an unconscious wearer, face-up. These life jackets are available in many sizes, styles, and colors that appeal to all ages and work well with varying boating activities.
 
Type IV -Throwable Device (float cushion)Type IV float cushion image
Intended to be thrown to a person who has fallen overboard. This device is designed to be grasped and held by the user until they can be rescued. Not suitable for rough or cold water survival. This type of a float cushion is useless to an unconscious or exhausted person and is not recommended for non-swimmers or children.
 
Float Cushions should never be worn on the back. This will force the person’s face underwater. A person overboard should put their arms through the straps and hold the cushion to their chest, which will keep their head out of the water.

Type V -Special Use DevicesImage of a special use life jacket for whitewater or other paddling activities.
This type of life jacket is designed and approved for restricted uses or activities such as sailboarding or commercial whitewater rafting. If it is approved and identified for commercial use only, it does not satisfy requirements for recreational watercraft. The label on the life jacket indicates the restrictions or limitations that apply and its performance type. This type of life jacket is only acceptable when used for the activity for which it is designed and labelled.
A hybrid inflatable life jacket is also a Type V. This type of inflatable has 7.5 pounds of inherent buoyancy when deflated and inflates up to 22 pounds. To count for life jacket carriage requirements, the hybrid inflatable must be worn except when the boat is not underway or when the boater is in an enclosed space, such as the cabin.
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Fire ExtinguishersB type fire extinguisher for marine safety
Each fire extinguisher is classified by letter and Roman numberal, according to its size and
the type of fire it is meant to extinguish. The following is a listing of the fire types and their corresponding letter:
A. Fires of ordinary combustible materials.
B. Gasoline, oil and grease fires.
C. Electrical fires.
 
Extinguishers approved for motorboats are hand-portable, of either B-1 or B-2 classification.
An approved extinguisher bears the label of a testing laboratory and will include either U.S. Coast Guard approval number or specify “Marine type USCG.” Boaters should be familiar with how to use their extinguisher. Check the charge, and be sure the powder is loose and not packed. Check fire extinguishers regularly. A boater considering an inflatable life jacket should make sure that it has a U.S. Coast Guard approval number on the label and that the jacket is used in accordance with the label for it to be considered in compliance. U.S. Coast Guard –approved inflatables are authorized for wear by persons 16 years of age and older.
Inflatable life jackets require annual maintenance and inspection.

Some additional points:

1. Keep a shipboard fire downwind. Turn the boat so that the flames and smoke blow away from the boat rather than over it.
2. Do not test a fire extinguisher. This breaks the seals and causes leakage. ALL extinguishers should be serviced at least every two years. See label for additional servicing information.
3. Store extinguishers where fire is NOT likely to break out.
An extinguisher mounted over the galley stove or inside the engine compartment may be impossible to reach when needed.
4. An extinguisher stored horizontally is less susceptible to packing or caking that is caused by vibration and settling.
5. Point the extinguisher nozzle at the source of the fire (beneath the flames) and sweep back and forth. Keep in mind that a type B-I extinguisher empties in less than 10 seconds!
6. Save some of the charge for a re-flash or, better yet, carry a spare extinguisher.


LightingImages by BoatEd depicting proper lighting for powerboats

All boats (including PWCs) 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 power boat. Check lights regularly to ensure that they are working properly.
 
This section describes the inland and international 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 BoatsLighting code for sail and power boats

On inland and international waters, a power driven boat shall exhibit navigation lights, as shown in graphic number one (1). Vessels less than 12 meters (39 feet-4 inches) may show the lights shone in figure 1 or 2 above. In international waters, a power driven boat of less than 7 meters (23 feet) in length, whose maximum speed cannot exceed 7 knots shall exhibit an all-round white light, or have ready-at-hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision.




Sailboats and Manually Propelled Boats (Paddlecraft)

NOTE: A sailboat under motor-power and sail is considered a power-driven boat.

Sailboats under sail alone must exhibit navigation lights shone in graphic three below.  Graphic 4 and 5 may also be used for boats under 7 meters (23 feet) in length.



Sailboats of less than 7 meters (23 feet) in length , shall exhibit an all-round white light, or have ready-at-hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent a collision. (See figure 6c above).

A manually propelled boat less than 23 feet may:BoatEd graphic of lighting for boats that are under sail or oar -unpowered.

a) display those lights prescribed for sailboats or,
b) have ready at hand and flashlight or lighted lantern showing a white light to display in sufficient time to prevent a collision (see figure 3 and 6 above).

Anchor Lights
Power-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 be seen the best.

However, vessels less than 7 meters (23 feet) are not required to display anchor lights unless anchored in or near a narrow channel, fairway, anchorage or where other vessels normally navigate.

Also, anchor lights are not required on vessels less than 20 meters (65 feet-7 inches), anchored by a special anchorage area designated by the Secretary of Transportation.
 
Day ShapeDay shape for sail boats
Vessels under sail and being propelled by motor must display a conical day shape, apex down, for the best visibility (see graphic 7).
 
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. These electrical devices are not “ignition protected” and may generate sparks that can cause fires and explosions on inboard engines.

Recommended equipment
 
Along with the required equipment, the Marine Board recommends carrying the following:
 
 
 
1. Compass
 
2. Anchor fenders
 
3. Flashlight, extra batteries
 
4. Extra line
 
5. Bucket
 
6. Port-a-potty
 
7. Bilge pump and pads
 
8. First aid kit
 
9. Paddle
 
10. Tool kit
 
11. Two-way radio
 
12. Cell phone
 
13. Visual distress signals
 
14. Marine VHF radio, if
operating in coastal waters

 
For more detailed information, visit: