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Curtesy Vessel Exam Vessel Safety Check Program

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safetyVE Safety Check Seal checks for recreational vessels.  The vessel safety check program consists of a voluntary examination of your vessel by a trained certified VSC Auxiliarist.  This examination promotes boating safety through education of the boater regarding what equipment is to be carried on board their vessel and other matters affecting vessel safety.  Remember we are the volunteer NON LAW ENFORCEMENT branch of the US Coast Guard.  You will not get a ticket or summons from us for not having the federal or state required equipment on your boat.

For further information or to arrange for a Vessel Safety check contact our flotilla staff officer for VE, Bob Martone.

Click here for fifteen likely reasons your vessel would fail a safety check.

If your boat in not in the North Jersey, NYC area?  You can also go to our national Vessel Safety Check web site and enter your information to find a vessel examiner near you.  Enter your contact information and where your boat will be and a member of the Vessel Examination team will contact you to arrange for the safety check.  There is no charge for this service and we are not a law enforcement agency so you will not be in trouble for any safety issues we point out to you.

What Is Involved in a Vessel Safety Check?

1. NUMBERING: Boat registration numbers must be permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the boat. They must be plain, vertical block characters, not less than three (3) inches high, and in a color contrasting with the background. A space or hyphen must separate the letters from the numbers (e.g., AL 1234 AB or AL-1234-AB). The state registration decal should be placed according to state policy, typically aft of the numbering on either side of the vessel.

2. REGISTRATION/DOCUMENTATION: Original registration or documentation papers must be on board and readily available.  On documented vessels, documentation numbers must be permanently marked on a visible part of the interior structure. A plaque screwed to a bulkhead does not qualify as 'permanently' marked.  The documented boat name and hailing port must be displayed together, on the exterior hull in letters not less than four (4) inches in height. To be documented a boat must be five (5) net tons or greater.

3. PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES (PFDs): Acceptable PFDs (also known as Life Jackets) must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in good serviceable condition, and of suitable size for each person on the boat. Children must have properly fitted PFDs designed for children. Wearable PFDs shall be readily accessible . Throwable devices (Type IV) shall be immediately available . PFDs shall NOT be stored in unopened plastic packaging. For Personal Watercraft riders, the PFD must be worn at all times and indicate an impact rating (typically 50mph or higher). Boats 16 feet or longer must also have one Type IV throwable PFD.  Type V PFDs must be worn to count toward the minimum requirement.

4. VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNALS: All recreational boats used on coastal waters or the Great Lakes are required to carry a minimum of three Coast Guard approved, current dated (check your expiration dates) day and night visual distress signals. Some signals (e.g., red flares, aerial flares) can serve as both day and night signals. Boats operating on inland waters should have some means of making a suitable day and night distress signal. The number and type of Visual Distress Signal is best judged by considering conditions under which the boat will be operating. Alternatives to pyrotechnic devices (e.g. flares) include: strobe light, flashlight, lantern, signal mirror, red or orange flags, and hand signals.

5. FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: Every power boat (including jet-ski/PWCs) requires a minimum of one Coast Guard approved B-1 extinguisher. Only rowboats and sailboats under 16 feet with no mechanical propulsion are exempt. NOTE: Fire extinguishers must be readily accessible and verified as serviceable. We strongly recommend that they be mounted on a bulkhead.

6. VENTILATION: Boats with gasoline engines in closed compartments, built after 1 August 1980 must have a powered ventilation system. Those built prior to that date must have natural or powered ventilation system. Boats with closed fuel tank compartments built after 1 August 1978 must meet requirements by displaying a certificate of compliance. Boats built before that date must have either natural or powered ventilation in the fuel tank compartment.

7. BACKFIRE FLAME ARRESTER: All gasoline powered inboard/outboard (I/O) or inboard motor boats must be equipped with an approved backfire flame control device.  Do NOT replace these with an automotive air filter.

8. SOUND PRODUCING DEVICES: To comply with navigation rules and for distress signaling purposes all boats must carry a sound producing device (whistle, horn, siren, etc.) capable of a 4-second blast audible for 1/2 mile. Boats larger than 39.4 ft. are also required to have a bell (see Navigation Rules).

9. NAVIGATION LIGHTS: All boats must be able to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and in conditions of reduced visibility. Boats 16 feet or more in length must have properly installed, working navigation lights and an all-around anchor light capable of being lit independently from the red/green/white running lights.

10. POLLUTION PLACARD: Boats 26 feet long and over with a machinery compartment must display an oily waste "pollution" placard.

11. MARPOL TRASH PLACARD: Boats 26 feet and over in length must display a MARPOL trash placard. Boats 40 feet long and over must also display a written trash disposal plan.

12. MARINE SANITATION DEVICE: Any installed toilet must be a Coast Guard approved device. Overboard discharge outlets must be capable of being sealed.

13. NAVIGATION RULES: Boats 39.4 feet and over must have a current copy of the navigation rules on board.

14. STATE AND LOCAL REQUIREMENTS: These requirements must be met before the "Vessel Safety Check" decal can be awarded. A boat must meet the requirements of the state in which it is being examined.

15. OVERALL BOAT CONDITION: As it applies to this Vessel. Including, but not limited to: Deck free of hazards, a clean bilge, and a safe electrical and fuel system.