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Vessel Safety Checks near Ipswich


Ipswich area Vessel Examiners perform inspections between March - October each year.  Please email us to schedule an appointment, or to inquire when our next at-wharf "Vessel Exam Day" will be held. 

At-wharf 2024 Dates:

  • Sunday June 2nd - Ipswich Public Wharf
  • Saturday July 20th - TBD location - Ipswich or Rowley
  • Saturday August 3rd - TBD location - Ipswich or Rowley


Boat Inspections / Vessel Safety Checks

A Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is performed at your boat − ranging in locations from boat ramp /wharf to your driveway. A vessel safety check usually takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending upon the size of your boat.



The mission of the Coast Guard Recreational Boating Safety program is to minimize the loss of life, personal injury, property damage and environmental impact associated with the use of recreational vessels through preventive means. The VSC program supports one of the program's key goals: to improve the demonstrated knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors of boaters.

The VSC is not a boarding or law enforcement issue. No citations will be given as a result of this encounter. The boater will be given a copy of the completed evaluations so that the boater may follow some of the suggestions given. Vessels that pass will be able to display the distinctive VSC decal. This does not exempt the boater from law enforcement boarding, but the boater can be prepared to make this a positive encounter.

What is a Vessel Safety Check? 

A Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a FREE check to boaters who wish to be sure that their vessel meets all federal and state equipment requirements. Vessel Examiners performing this service have been trained to look for some of the more common problems, which might occur on vessels or their associated safety equipment.

The items reviewed are:

  • Proper Display of Numbers
  • Registration/Documentation
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
  • Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Ventilation
  • Backfire Flame Arrestor
  • Sound Producing Devices/Bell
  • Navigation Lights
  • Pollution Placard
  • MARPOL Trash Placards
  • Marine Sanitation Device
  • Navigation Rules
  • State and/or Local Requirements
  • Overall Vessel Condition
Additional Safety Equipment to consider: 
  • Marine Radio
  • Dewatering Device & Backup
  • Mounted Fire Extinguishers
  • Anchor and Line for Area
  • First Aid and Person-In-Water Kit (PIW)
          Note: PIW consists of one extra wearable PFD and a throwable type IV PFD with line
  • Inland Visual Distress Signals
  • Capacity/Certification of Compliance

In summary, a vessel safety check is meant to be an educational moment to every boater. It's an opportunity to ensure you and your vessel meet local, state, and federal laws - which legitimately contribute to safety of life at sea. 


During the Vessel Safety Check, the vessel examiner will discuss with the recreational boater the purpose of specific marine safety equipment, will clarify various federal and state regulations, will discuss certain safety procedures practices, and will answer any boating related questions.

Some of the discussion topics are:

  • Accident Reporting/Owner Responsibility
  • Charts and Aids to Navigation
  • Offshore Operations
  • Survival Tips
  • First Aid
  • Float Plans
  • Weather and Sea Conditions
  • Fueling and Fuel Management
  • Boating Checklist
  • Availability of Boating Safety Classes


The state of MA has some requirements in addition to the Federal requirements, they are as follows:

  • A Bell is still required for boats 26 feet or longer.
  • All motor powered boats are required to have an anchor and line
  • (suitable for the area you boat).
  • A manual de-watering device (pump or bucket) is required on all vessels propelled by a motor (good idea even on sailboats without a motor)
  • Motor powered boats less than 16 feet are required to have a paddle or oar.
  • All vessels towing a person on water skis or similar devices must be equipped with a ladder, steps, platform, or similar device that can be used to retrieve the person being towed from the water.
  • Registration and numbering of all boats powered by machinery.
  • More MA info


 These items and more are currently required by state and federal laws and, if missing or non-operating, can result in a citation if your vessel is inspected by the Coast Guard.

What if I Don't Pass?

If your boat does not pass, no citation is issued at that time. Instead, you are provided a written report on how to correct any discrepancies.  


Click to set up an appointment via the USCGAUX website.

Or send us an E-MAIL directly.

Please provide a name, location, and time you would like us to inspect your vessel and in the SUBJECT line please note "Vessel Inspection".

Want to know how to prepare?  Access our VSC guidance page for help.