Get a Free Vessel Safety Check

Wed, May 21, 2014 at 12:00AM

How safe are you on the water? Even if you take every precaution, read all the maps and follow important weather advisories, being a safe boater takes a little more—having a safe boat! The United States Coast Guard can perform a free vessel safety check (VSC) to make sure your boat is in top-notch condition.

What kinds of things does the safety check look at? According to the Coast Guard Auxiliary website, you’ll want to prepare the following:

  • Clear display of registration and documentation
  • Working and readily accessible lifejackets
  • Visual and audible distress signals (flashlights, flares, bells, whistles, etc.)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Ventilation
  • Backfire flame control
  • Navigation lights
  • Approved installed toilet systems, if applicable
  • Pollution and MARPOL trash placards for boats over 26 feet

In addition to these areas, you’ll want to present a clear deck, clean bilge and safe fuel, electrical and heating systems. A complete list with more specific instructions for different boat sizes can be found at

To schedule your VSC, just visit the link and sign up! You’ll receive an email and can then confirm where you’re safety check will be performed (it can be at the marina or wherever your boat is located).

‘Not passing’ the safety check won’t earn you a citation—but you’ll get feedback on what you should fix before taking your boat out on the water. Not only will your VSC give you clearance to go boating, it will give you peace of mind knowing that you (and your family and friends!) are safe while boating.

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