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To be safe and comply with Oregon law, you’ll need the right equipment and to know the regulations that were designed for your safety. Equipment varies based on boat type, boat length, and sometimes by a waterbody’s inherent conditions (e.g. whitewater rivers and the Pacific Ocean/coastal bars).
Statewide and Local Regulations
Oregon Revised Statutes
Oregon Administrative Rules
Marine Law Enforcement Partners
Experience Oregon Boating -Regulations and Safety Handbook -with insert with new 2020 laws
Become a Partner in Safety and agree to use imagery of people wearing life jackets when promoting water recreation
1. Wearable Life Jacket
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 wearable 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 equipment.
3. Navigation Lights
Required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility.
4. Waterway Access Permit (boats 10' and longer, including sail between 10'-11'9")
A waterway access permit is required on boats 10' long and longer, and sailboats between 10' and 11'. One permit per boat. Permits are transferrable to other non-motorized boats and children 13 and younger are exempt.
1. Wearable Life Jackets
1. Wearable Life Jacket
Boats 40 feet and under 65 feet need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved wearable 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 deck orr 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-1 (or newer rating 5-B) fire extinguishers or one B-I (or 5-B) type plus one B-II (or newer rating 20-B) type approved portable fire extinguishers. When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed, one less B-I (5-B) 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.
7. Navigation Lighting-Lights are required only when the boat is underway or at anchor between sunset and surise and during restricted visibility.
Part of your motorboat registration fees go into the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program and Abandoned/Derelict Vessel Removal Fund, as well as helping fund marine law enforcement and boating facility grants.
NOTE: Boats operating on federally controlled waters must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals. In Oregon, federally controlled waters include the mouth of the Columbia River and all coastal waters. All vessels, regardless of length or type, are required to carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise.
A Federal boat engine cutoff switch law went into effect on April 1, 2021. This BoatUS article helps explain the new federal regulation for boats under 26 feet operating on plane or displacement speed. The USCG has an FAQ page.
Because there is no rule requiring the use of ECOS for any boat other than personal watercraft, Oregon marine officers cannot enforce their use except for personal watercraft. The Oregon State Marine Board may consider additional requirements for ECOS in the future but is not doing so at this time.
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