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Vessel Owners & Operators must:

  • Comply with all Federal, State & Local Requirements
  • Take appropriate actions to protect safety & wellbeing of self & others
  • Operate Vessels in Safe, Reasonable & Responsible Manner
  • Take whatever actions necessary to avoid a collision

Recreational Boats: Maritime/Admiralty Law, Excise Tax & Vessel Purchase  /  Guide to Federal Requirements  /  USCG Recreational Boaters

Navigation Lights & Shapes  -  Boats without navigation lights are required to carry flashlight or other white flare-up light that must be displayed between sunset & sunrise in sufficient time to avoid a collision.   Knowing the navigation light distinctive patterns & shapes could save your life (Navigation Lights Test).

Waste Management Plan  -  Title 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 151.57 requires all ocean going vessels 40 ft or more used in commerce or equipped with galley & berthing to have written waste management plan (includes numbered & documented recreational vessels).

U.S. Coast Guard Lifesaving & Fire Safety Division

State & Local Requirements


  • vessel registration & numbering
  • vessel titling
  • boat trailer registration & licensing
  • state boating safety education card
  • posted speed limits & no wake zones
  • no discharge of waste on inland waters
  • discharge / spill of gasoline, oil, diesel or other petroleum products prohibited
  • boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (BUI)
  • all sailboats must carry sidelights & stern light

Actual:  MD    VA    Other States

Additional Items Worth Having Onboard:

  • first-aid kit & portable radio (weather forecasts)
  • charts of area
  • dock lines & fenders
  • anchor & anchor line (rode) for 10:1 scope
  • dewatering device / bucket
  • protective clothing, sun screen, drinking water & snacks
  • VHF radio or cell-phone to call for assistance in an emergency
  • oars in event wind quits or mechanical failure

Valuable Information Worth Knowing:

Lifejackets or Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)  -  Be sure to read & comply with information on label of Inflatable jackets.  If Lifejackets not worn when underway, prior to getting underway assign one to each person, have them put it on properly & adjust it to make sure they know how to use it.  Always store Lifejackets in clean, dry, well ventilated & easily accessible area (best by helm) that will allow them to float free if vessel should overturn or sink.  Be sure to regularly check that Lifejackets are in good serviceable condition (repair / replace as needed) & match your current needs (size & type).

Fire Extinguishers  -  Prevent fires by storing flammable materials away from flame, spark or heat sources & insuring shifting cargo doesn't accidentally activate aerosol spray cans.  Using wrong type extinguisher on a fire will usually make situation worse rather than better.  Extinguishers rated ABC can be safely used on any type of small contained fire.  To use an Extinguisher Remember P.A.S.S.

  • Class A (things that create Ash)  -  combustible materials such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber & some plastics
  • Class B (things that can Boil)  -  flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, kerosene, diesel, alcohol, tar, paint & lacquers
  • Class C (things that Conduct current)  -  electrical fires where heat source is an arcing or overloaded circuit
  • Amount of Agent  -  numeral appearing after "Class" designation indicates relative size or amount of extinguishing agent (II has twice the capacity of a I where a Size I: A = 1.25 gallons of water & B:C = 20 square feet of coverage)

Backfire Flame Arrestor  -  Inspect & clean annually (repair or replace if damaged).

Ventilation System  -  Owner/Operator responsible for keeping systems in good workting condition (openings free of obstructions with appropriate cowls installed; ducts not blocked, crushed, kinked or torn; blowers operating properly & worn out components replaced as needed).

Visual Distress Signals (VDS): Day , Night or Day/Night  -  Distress flares (handheld, meteor & parachute) have expiration dates 42 months after date of manufacture.  In Canada, vessels must comply with Canadian Coast Guard approved Requirements & Standards which are good for 48 months after date of manufacture.  Carry Requirement Update - LED SOS Light.

Sound Producing Device  -  Exercise care to avoid damaging hearing by activating sound producing devices near ears or when pointed directly at someone (human or animal).   Sound signals used to communicate intentions, warn if risk of collision exists or position & headway during reduced visibility are listed in Navigation Rules.   Remember to regularly check propellant level in propellant activated devices (carry spare cylinder).

Boating Safety Guidelines & Good Practices that will help you be a safe, courteous, responsible & respected boater

Lifejackets Float, You Don't - Wear It, We Do!

Boating Safety - Doing Your Part

Good Boating Practices & Tips

Flotilla 23-1 & CG Auxiliary

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