YOUR BOAT CHECKED FOR REQUIRED FEDERAL & STATE SAFETY
INSURANCE COMPANIES & MARINE DEALERS OFFER DISCOUNTS ON INSURANCE &
REQUIRED SAFETY EQUIPMENT UPON PASSING THE VESSEL SAFETY CHECK.
SINCE 2002 FLOTILLA 33 VESSEL EXAMINERS HAVE CONDUCTED OVER 10,000
VESSEL SAFETY CHECKS.
A BIG THANK
YOU TO EACH OF OUR 2017 VESSEL SAFETY CHECK / PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Chesapeake Boat Basin
Glebe Point Yacht Club.
Grey's Point Campground
Horn Harbor Marina
Ingam Bay Marina
Rappahannock Yacht Club
Regent Point Yacht Club
Smith Point Marina
Yankee Point Marina
FLOTILLA 33 VESSEL EXAMINERS CONDUCT SAFETY CHECKS AT LOCAL MARINAS & PUBLIC RAMPS
FLOTILLA 33 VESSEL EXAMINER JIM MAGUIRE CONDUCTING
VESSEL SAFETY CHECKS AT YANKEE POINT MARINA.
FLOTILLA 33 VESSEL EXAMINER PAT HOGAN (L) CONDUCTS VESSEL SAFETY CHECK ON A SAILBOAT AT
INGRAM BAY MARINA.
FLOTILLA 33 VESSEL EXAMINER HOWARD MONTGOMERY (L) CONDUCTS
VESSEL SAFETY CHECK ON A PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AT INGRAM BAY
It is a known fact that safe boats do save lives. For
recreational boaters, operating any size or type of boat,
safety should be an all-important part of the boating
experience. In addition to wearing lifejackets and
completing a boating safety course, getting an annual Vessel
Safety Check of your boat is an ideal way to boat smart from
What is a Vessel Safety Check? A Vessel Safety Check
(VSC) is a free courtesy check of
your boat (vessel) to verify the presence and condition of
specific safety equipment required by Federal, state and
local regulations. A Vessel Examiner is a certified member
of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary who is trained to conduct
a VSC. He or she will perform the VSC on your boat, discuss
the purpose and value of required and optional marine safety
equipment, answer any boating related safety questions, and
make recommendations that will help make you a safer boater.
In addition to boating safety education, important new
Homeland Security rules for boaters are discussed.
“A VSC is a public service intended to serve as
prevention through education. It is also intended to help
recreational boaters gain a respect for the boating
environment,” says Peter Urgola, Department Chief of Vessel
Examination for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. “What the boater
will receive is a copy of the safety check and basic
evaluation so that the boater can learn about safety
equipment, safety precautions, and follow some of the
suggestions for a safe outing.”
A VSC usually takes about 20-30 minutes to perform, is
totally voluntary, is not a boarding or a law enforcement
action, and there are no citations ever given as a result.
Boats that “pass” a VSC will receive a distinctive VSC
decal, which is displayed on your boat. “The decal does not
exempt the boater from a law enforcement boarding, but it
does indicate that the boat has received a Vessel Safety
Check and will better prepare the operator for a more
positive encounter should he or she get boarded by a law
enforcement officer,” says Urgola.
Obtaining a VSC has great benefits. According to Urgola,
passing a VSC will qualify the boat for a discount from some
participating marine insurance companies. Additionally, if
your boat does not pass the VSC, you can receive discounts
on missing or replacement boating safety equipment items.
Simply take a copy of the VSC report to the nearest
participating retailer, purchase those items, and return to
complete the VSC.
A VSC can be a valuable learning experience for the
boater while providing some extra safety tips. For example,
putting plastic covers on boat battery terminals, carrying a
VHF marine radio, filing a float plan, de-watering devices,
anchor and lines, and carrying a toolkit and first aid kit
are just a few.
Before venturing out on the water each time, it is always
a good idea to discuss safety and safe operation procedures
with your passengers. Fit each passenger with their
lifejackets making sure they are fit and snug. Then, locate
and discuss the operation of various safety items such as
fire extinguishers, VHF radio, flashlights, first aid kits,
and life lines.
Wearing lifejackets, taking a boating safety course,
boating sober, and getting an annual Vessel Safety Check are
important points that will make you a safer boater and a
more confident skipper. More importantly, these behaviors
and routine practices will help save lives. Perhaps it is
true that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure.” Nevertheless, your family and friends will enjoy
themselves knowing your boat has all the appropriate safety
gear, is operating safely, and that you are a responsible
boater. They will thank you for it, too.
For more information about boating safety from the Coast
Guard and Federal boating requirements, visit
You’re In Command - Boat
responsibly and Boat Smart From the Start – Get A Vessel
Registration/Documentation – Always have your
original registration or documentation papers handy.
- Boat Registration
Numbers - Make sure your registration numbers
are permanently attached to both sides of the forward
half of the boat. The numbers should be in 3-inch,
plain, block letters, and in a contrasting color from
the hull. The state decals must be placed correctly in
accordance with your state’s boating registration
- Lifejackets and
Personal Flotation Devices - Make sure that you
have a personal flotation device (PFD or lifejacket) for
every person on board, in a readily accessible location
(and not still in its original plastic bags). Be sure
the lifejackets are the correct size for each passenger.
Boats 16-feet long or longer must also carry a throwable
Type IV PFD as well. If you operate a personal
watercraft, you must wear your lifejacket and
many states require the PFD to be impact-rated. A 100
mile per hour (MPH) impact-rated PFD does not mean that
you will be protected in a 100 MPH crash, but rather,
the PFD will still float after a 100 MPH crash.
- Visual Distress
Signals – Be certain Visual Distress Signals
(VDS), such as flares, orange smoke, and other
pyrotechnic devices, have not expired. Pyrotechnic
devices typically have a 42-month shelf life. While some
states do not require day and/or night VDS, it is
recommended that all vessels carry both day (signal
mirror, or orange flag) and night (strobe, flashlight,
or lantern) signals. It is also a good idea to attach a
strobe light and whistle to each PFD. Those small items
and recommendations, while not required for pass a VSC,
can be obtained from most marine dealers and marine
- Fire Extinguishers
– This is an important item. Be sure your fire
extinguishers are fully charged, you have sufficient
numbers of them for the type and size of your boat, and
they are United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved ones.
Mounting your fire extinguishers is also a great idea.
- Ventilation Systems
- If you have a powerboat with an inboard or
inboard/outboard engine, make sure your ventilation
system works and, if built after August 1, 1978,
displays a proper Certificate of Compliance.
- Backfire Flame
Arrestor Control Device - Check to make sure
your inboard or inboard/outboard (IO) gasoline engine
has a functioning backfire flame arrestor control
device. A non-working one can result in a very hazardous
- Sound producing
devices - Make certain sure your horn works,
and if your boat requires it, have a bell. Once again,
it is also a good idea to attach a whistle to each PFD
onboard too. Learn the proper use of sound signals and
rules of the road.
- Navigation Lights
- Check your navigation lights regularly. Many times the
bulbs blow, so it is a good idea to carry spare bulbs.
Remember, all boats operating between sunset and sunrise
and during periods of reduced visibility, must have
navigation lights available for use and operating.
- Oil Discharge
Pollution and Marine Pollution ( MARPOL) placards
– Boats, 26- feet in length and over, require both Oil
Discharge Pollution and Marine Pollution ( MARPOL)
placards. Your Vessel Examiner may have those placards
to give you. If not, you can also get them from area
marinas and boat stores, which are often available at no
- Marine Sanitation
Devices (MSD) must be Coast Guard-approved and
overboard waste discharge outlets must be sealed. Check
- Navigation Rules
- Vessels over 39.4 feet are required to carry a copy of
the Coast Guard Navigation Rules (COLREGs), but it is a
good idea for all boats to carry them, as well as local
navigation charts of the waters you boat on.
- State Boating
Regulations - Make sure you obtain and read a
copy of your state and local boating regulations so you
can be certain your boat is in compliance. If you boat
on waters outside your state of registration, you are
required to comply with those state regulations.