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Vessel Examinations

Sports and Utility Boats and Courtesy Vessel Examinations

Sports and Utility Boats - Paddlesports are the fastest growing area of recreational boating. Sports and Utility Boats are everywhere on our Lakes, Rivers, and Oceans from coast to coast. This link is to information that will help Auxiliarists learn about this exciting area of recreational boating. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is committed to reminding all recreational boaters to be smart from the start.

New and Amended Regulations for Pennsylvania Sports and Utility Boats:

Mandatory Life Jackets from 1 November through 30 April - In the past 15 years, a disproportionate number of recreational boating fatalities occurred in this Commonwealth from November through April primarily due to the effects of coldwater immersion. When water temperatures are less than 70 degrees F, cold water shock is a major factor in boating fatalities. Cold water shock causes an involuntary gasp (often resulting in aspiration of water), hyperventilation, breathlessness and a reduced ability to control breathing and swim. Victims who wear a personal flotation device when exposed to cold water have potentially life-saving advantages such as insulation from the cold, buoyancy for victims who are unable to tread water and reduced risk of aspiration of water. In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities related to coldwater immersion, the Commission amends §97.1, as set forth in the notice of proposed rulemaking, to require life jackets to be worn on small and unstable boats during the period most noted for cold water temperatures, i.e., November 1 through April 30.

Clarification of Sound Producing Devices - Section 97.3 of the Commission’s regulations requires sound producing devices in boats. Inland Navigation Rule 32, Part D-Sound and Light Signals, does not make a distinction in terms of required sound equipment for powered versus unpowered vessels. Length of the vessel is the characteristic that determines the type of sound producing device required. Section 97.3 of the Commission’s regulations is consistent with the Inland Navigation Rule and specifically refers to unpowered boats for ease of reference. However, the use of the word “oral” in describing the requirement for unpowered boats may be misconstrued as meaning shouting or whistling as being an acceptable sound signal. The Commission therefore proposes clarifying the requirement and adding a statement indicating that an athletic coach’s whistle is an acceptable sound producing device for unpowered boats. Additionally, the Commission proposes including a prohibition against the use of sound signals except in the case of an emergency.

SOUND PRODUCING DEVICES--2012 Amended Required Equipment per the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Operators of unpowered boats (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards) are required to carry a device capable of sounding a prolonged blast for 4-6 seconds that can be heard by another boat operator in time to avoid a collision. An athletic coach's whistle is an acceptable sound-producing device.

Courtesy Vessel Examination - For information on courtesy vessel examinations and finding a local vessel examiner in your area.  Once on the Vessel Safety Check website, please click on "I want a VSC."

A Vessel Safety Check is a courtesy examination of your boat (Vessel) to verify the presence and condition of certain Safety Equipment required by State and Federal regulations. The Vessel Examiner is a trained specialist and is a member the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary who will make certain recommendations and discuss certain safety issues that will make you a safer boater.