About USCGAUX Free Vessel Safety Checks
From the smallest paddlecraft to the largest sea going vessel, the U.S Coast Guard would like to see all vessels in compliance with equipment carriage requirements and safely operated. If you are uncertain about the Federal, State and Local safety requirements for your boat, one way to make sure you are in compliance is to schedule a Vessel Safety Check (VSC), offered as a free public service by the Volunteers of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Be assured that if your boat does not earn it’s decal for any reason, nothing is reported or written up. The Auxiliary examiner will simply explain to you what your vessel needs so that you can choose to comply by securing the equipment needed.
Other federal and state agencies may also conduct similar types of checks. However, we strongly recommend that you have your vessel inspected by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner.
As a part of "Team Coast Guard" the Auxiliary is the civilian, uniformed arm of the U.S. Coast Guard and highly trained in both Federal, State, and Local laws.
All boats do not require the exact same equipment. The Aux examiners know what applies to your boat and will be happy to discuss and explain if you are uncertain. If this is your first vessel exam, before you meet your vessel examiner, you will be well advised go over the lists below and see these short, helpful videos to make the most of your inspection.
Qualified examiners with the USCG Aux will meet you and your trailered boat or come to your vessel at the dock to conduct a courtesy examination of safety equipment carried or installed and certain aspects of the vessel's overall condition. VSC requirements parallel federal and state requirements with regard to equipment and vessel condition. Those vessels that pass will be awarded a VSC decal indicating a successful check along with a copy of the examination. There are several probable perks when your boat wears the VSC sticker.
What We Check
Depending on the requirements for your particular boat or paddlecraft,
The items checked during a VSC may be:
*Sound producing devices/bell, horn, whistle, etc.
*Life jackets and throwable flotation devices.
*Visual distress signals
*Backfire flame control
*Overall vessel condition, including electric-fuel systems, gally-heating systems, deck free of hazards/clean bilge, if applicable.
*Proper display of numbers
*Pollution placard (oily waste discharge if applicable)
*MARPOL trash placards (garbage dumping restriction if applicable.)
*Marine sanitation devices, if applicable.
*Navigation Rules book, if applicable
*State and/or local requirements.
*Other recommended equipment
While not required on all vessels, the following are also strongly recommended for most vessels in which they are not required.
*VHF-FM Marine Radio with Digital Selective Calling System.
*Dewatering Device and Backup
*Mounted Fire Extinguisher
*Anchor and Line
*First Aid Kit
*Person-in-Water (PIW) Kit
During A Vessel Examination
During the Vessel Safety Check, the vessel examiner will discuss with the recreational boater the purpose of specific marine safety equipment, will clarify federal and state regulations, will discuss certain safety procedures, and will answer any boating-related questions. Some of the topics discussed are:
*Accident reporting/owner responsibility.
*Charts and Aids to Navigation.
*Inflatable life rafts.
*Weather and sear conditions
*Fueling and fuel management
*Availability of boating safety classes
*America's Waterway Watch