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Equipment and Regulations

What's required to have on board your boat

Definition of a Boat: All watercraft including a seaplane on the water and not in flight, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. Exemptions include boat houses, floating homes, air mattresses, beach and water toys, or single inner tubes. Have the required equipment and know the regulations for boat operations that are in place for your safety. 

The equipment you need to carry on board depends on:

  • boat type
  • boat length
  • inherent conditions (e.g. whitewater rivers, coastal bars, and the Pacific Ocean)

Be sure you meet the equipment (carriage) requirements listed below. Know the local rules for the waterbody where you'll be boating. 

 Equipment for Type & Length of Boat

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

​Boats under 26 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.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket while on an open deck or 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.

​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 equipment.

3.  Fire Extinguisher when no fixed fire extinguishing system is installed. Every motorboat, except outboard motorboats less than 26 feet in length of open construction, shall carry on board, fully charged and in serviceable condition a B-I (or 5-B) type hand portable, marine-approved fire extinguisher.

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.
 
The particular type depends on 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.

1. Wearable Life Jacket

Boats 26 feet  to 40 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 anopen deck or cockpit when a boat is underway or being towed.

​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 horns.

3.  Two, B-1 (or newer rating 5-B) Fire Extinguishers​ or one B-II (20-B) rated 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.

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.​
1.  Wearable Life Jackets

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 or​r 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.​

Visual Distress Signals 

Visual Distress Signals must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved, in good condition, and ready for use. These waters can be dangerous.

All boats, regardless of length, must carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise.  

Most must also carry day signals. Exceptions to the rule for day signals are boats under 16 feet in length: 

  • Nonmotorized open sailboats less than 26 feet in length
  • Nonmotorized boats (kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, etc.)
  • Carry a minimum of three visual distress signals before their expiration date

Engine Cut-Off Switches

A Federal boat engine cutoff switch law went into effect on April 1, 2021. This law applies to operators of motorboats under 26 feet for on-plane or at displacement speeds. This BoatUS article helps explain the new federal regulation The USCG has an FAQ page.

In Oregon, there is no rule requiring the use of engine cut-off switches for boats other than personal watercraft.