Coast Guard Requirements for Personal Boats and Paddles

Coast Guard Requirements for Personal Boats and Paddles
The U.S. Coast Guard is charged with setting rules and policing the waters in and around the US mainland. Rules have been established which outline basic equipment and minimum standards that all boats must meet. Equipment is manufactured to meet the requirements of the USCG to help boaters determine what is and is not acceptable.

Personal Flotation

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) may either be worn or thrown. Boats used for recreation must be equipped with a PFD which is approved by the USCG.

Each person should have access to a PFD which properly fits and is in good condition. Vests and thrown devices cannot be stored while the boat is in operation, but must be easily accessible by passengers. Regulations specify that there must be one PFD per passenger on the boat in addition to one thrown device per boat.

Safety Equipment

Other safety equipment required by the USCG includes at least one B-1 or B-2 type fire extinguisher, a visual distress signaling device, such as a flare gun or smoke signal and a device capable of producing loud sound, such as a whistle or air horn.

The size of the boat may dictate what specific equipment must be carried. For example, any boat less than 12 meters in length must carry some type of approved sound device. Additional equipment may be required based on boat type.

Courtesy Marine Examination

The Courtesy Marine Examination (CME) is an inspection performed by a certified examiner from the USCG Auxiliary. The purpose is to examine and determine if the required equipment is on board a specific vessel and if the equipment meets the guidelines of the USCG.

If a boat passes, a CME decal is issued, which is displayed along with the boat's identification numbers. Items not required by the Coast Guard, but included in the examination, include an alternative means of propulsion such as a paddle or oars and a means of water removal such as a hand- or battery-operated pump.


Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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