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A couple of safety/legal issues as to how boats are set up keeps driving me crazy.

As for background, I am Coast Guard Auxiliary with over twenty years in the organization. In that time, I have done boating and kayaking safety classes, vessel examinations and uninspected passenger vessel examinations (six pack). With that being said, I am amazed at how small a percentage of boats can pass the federal inspection that the Coast Guard uses.

I don't know how states other than Texas fare, but in the area that I do vessel examinations, only about twenty percent of the boats pass. And this is just simple, basic stuff. I fail boats for improper display of numbers, not having documents on board, nav lights not working or improperly displayed, life jackets that are unusable, and a few others. One of the biggies here in Texas is lack of Visual Distress Signals (flares). The state essentially requires them on anything other than a kayak that is in salt water.

The sad thing is that these omissions not only pose a safety hazard to the operator and his passengers, they can get damned expensive if you are stopped and inspected by the Coast Guard. Just last year, one boater didn't want a ten minute inspection cause the fish were waiting. An hour later he was back at the dock moaning about $800 in tickets that he got. Ten minutes for the inspection and an hour to go to Walmart would have saved him a bunch of cash.

So, look up your local Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel examiner and get your boat checked and save yourself some money and possibly your life.

Off the soapbox.
 

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Lowcountry Degen
2021 Conchfish 17.8
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@anzuelo I think it might be different for each state, but what is your opinion on inflatable life vests that are stowed?

I've heard that the inflatables don't count toward the minimum required number of vests unless they are being worn, but I haven't actually been able to find that in any official document. On our small skiffs where space is a premium, I know it's much easier to make room to stow 3 inflatables rather than 3 full-sized vests.
 

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BBA Counselor
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@anzuelo I think it might be different for each state, but what is your opinion on inflatable life vests that are stowed?

I've heard that the inflatables don't count toward the minimum required number of vests unless they are being worn, but I haven't actually been able to find that in any official document. On our small skiffs where space is a premium, I know it's much easier to make room to stow 3 inflatables rather than 3 full-sized vests.
I think that's a USCG rule so maybe he can confirm. I will tell you one of mine did actually have that printed on the back of it, and they sell them nation wide.

Edit: now that I think about it I think it says it must be worn to be considered a type II/III, and stowed is a type V.
 

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@anzuelo I think it might be different for each state, but what is your opinion on inflatable life vests that are stowed?

I've heard that the inflatables don't count toward the minimum required number of vests unless they are being worn, but I haven't actually been able to find that in any official document. On our small skiffs where space is a premium, I know it's much easier to make room to stow 3 inflatables rather than 3 full-sized vests.
Your inflatable should say what type it is. Inflatables can be II, III OR V. You just have to verify which one you have. It’s a good idea if you do prefer one that’s a type V, to put another type II or III in the boat.
 

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I took part in a voluntary safety inspection the local CG Auxiliary was doing at my local ramp and it was very helpful. While it took a little longer than expected, I was happy to learn I was missing some required safety items. A few months later I was checked by the feds while fishing the Harney River in ENP (couldn't believe I was 20 miles from the ramp and getting checked!) and passed with flying colors. I felt like the officers couldn't believe I actually had everything needed on board, guess theyre used to finding violations. Funny sidebar- during that Auxiliary inspection, some of the members were demonstrating different types of flares. One of the guys launched one clear across the ICW to where it landed in the marsh and started to catch the vegetation on fire. It luckily went out soon but everyone had a good laugh.
 

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I Love Skinny Water
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I just keep full size vest in my front hatch along with fire extinguisher, flares and whistle. My nav lights work so i guess I'm good to go
 

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Brandon, FL
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I seem to get checked about every other year - usually on opening day of duck season.

Each year I get a FWC safety sticker for having all required gear. It is in my boat and stays there.
 

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I never understood what having documents onboard the vessel has to do with a safety inspection. You can see the registration is current by the sticker on the side. You can pull the owner's info with a hull ID number and I have ID. There is a sticker that says how much weight, power, and people the hull is rated for. Why do you need my registration or any other documents onboard?
 

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I took part in a voluntary safety inspection the local CG Auxiliary was doing at my local ramp and it was very helpful. While it took a little longer than expected, I was happy to learn I was missing some required safety items. A few months later I was checked by the feds while fishing the Harney River in ENP (couldn't believe I was 20 miles from the ramp and getting checked!) and passed with flying colors. I felt like the officers couldn't believe I actually had everything needed on board, guess theyre used to finding violations. Funny sidebar- during that Auxiliary inspection, some of the members were demonstrating different types of flares. One of the guys launched one clear across the ICW to where it landed in the marsh and started to catch the vegetation on fire. It luckily went out soon but everyone had a good laugh.
Yeah I had the voluntary Coast Guard Aux inspection at the ramp. I was actually glad they did this because I wasn’t quite sure I had everything that is required. Turns out I did. He did comment that I should take my brand new fire extinguisher out of the packaging and place it in a convenient location. :) And yes....I got the cool Coast Guard sticker displayed on my console.
 

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I got my captain's license almost 25 years ago - and learned in school how little I knew about safety stuff on boats (and at that point I'd been working on boats since the early seventies..).

All of us need to take the time to learn basic safety stuff, period.. Just because you have a nice high end, brand new skiff doesn't mean that there aren't things to learn...

Once I actually began setting my skiff up as a commercial , for hire, proposition I didn't just get standard Type One PFD's - I got the SOLAS ones (that are meant for folks that are crossing oceans.... and I added a whistle and a lightstick to each one - as well as my FL numbers in permanent marker..). I also got SOLAS flares instead of the cheap, worthless flares that most buy (each handheld is about $10 and more than twice as bright as a standard handheld -and lasts twice as long....). You get the idea... The parachute flare is about five times better than the cheapies that most have - but it's not cheap at nearly $60 each.

Years later my son joined the Coast Guard and then I learned about a few other things I really should have.... These days I've added an inflatable PFD for when I'm running solo - and really try to wear it... He also made me a gift of a personal locator beacon (ACR RESQ Link) and I wear that as well when I'm solo...

I was taught that the day you'll need your safety gear - you'll REALLY need it, and you'll be in the worst possible weather situation as well....

Aren't boats fun?
 

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I never understood what having documents onboard the vessel has to do with a safety inspection. You can see the registration is current by the sticker on the side. You can pull the owner's info with a hull ID number and I have ID. There is a sticker that says how much weight, power, and people the hull is rated for. Why do you need my registration or any other documents onboard?
1.Because it is the law.
2.Your wasting the officers time
3. Helps w/ boat theft and Identification which may help keep your BUTT out of jail in case u really get stupid.
 

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1.Because it is the law.
2.Your wasting the officers time
3. Helps w/ boat theft and Identification which may help keep your BUTT out of jail in case u really get stupid.
#1 is a BS answer. Of course its a law, but why is it a law?
#2... you can see the reg sticker and the USCG sticker faster than I pull the documents out of a waterproof box in the console.
#3... he doesn't know if the boat is stolen without checking the hull ID against a database over the radio... hence not saving any time on #2.

How is me owning the boat going to keep me out of jail for acting stupid? If a person is drunk or violent they are going to jail, doesn't matter if it's your boat or not.
 

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1. why is it a law in a car?
2/3. Not every boat is run when it is stopped especially when "joe blow" is aboard....need to know the info for safety inspec. etc......or a ticket or other law enforcement activity.. a lot easier and faster than asking for everything from someone w/ attitude.... .called building probable cause
for >>>> "all kinds of things"

Last but not least, could be the difference of an NTA or a ride ...it all helps to build confidence on whether the OFC. believes who you say you are... whether u go home or not

Boat stop...Who owns the boat? ah"""" I borrowed it from a friend ...can I see you registration sure....fishes around..here it is .......ofc asks who owns the boat? Op..it is on the regis......Who owns the boat??????....and the fun begins!

And, that is only one situation...go ahead do what u want just answering the questions and being helpful...

I already know.
 
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