USCG Equipment Requirements

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Note: The U.S. Coast Guard's free pamphlet, "Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats," gives more complete details on how many and what types of equipment you must have aboard your boat. Call the Coast Guard, 800-368-5647 or visit their website at www.uscgboating.org to obtain a copy. Many state requirements go beyond Coast Guard requirements. Call your state boating office for information on local safety requirements.

Boats Less Than 16 Feet

  • Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets)

    Recreational boats must carry Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible, not stowed in bags, locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use. There must be one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., PLUS one Type IV throwable device. Throwable, Type IV PFDs may no longer be substituted for wearable types on boats less than 16 feet. State laws on mandatory PFD wear may vary.

  • Fire Extinguishers

    At least one B-1 type Coast Guard-approved hand portable fire extinguisher. Not required on outboard motorboats less than 26 feet long and not carrying passengers for hire if the construction of such motorboats will not permit the entrapment of explosive or flammable gases or vapors, and if fuel tanks are not permanently installed.

  • Visual Distress Signals

    Must carry approved visual distress signals for nighttime use.

  • Bells, Whistle

    Every vessel less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) long must carry an efficient sound-producing device.

  • Ventilation (Boats built BEFORE 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flashpoint of 110° F or less.

  • Ventilation (Boats built AFTER 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and fuel every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except those having permanently installed tanks vented outside the boat and containing no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine with a cranking motor must contain power-operated exhaust blowers controllable from the instrument panel.

  • Backfire Flame Arrestor

    One approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors. Device must be marked to show compliance with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 Standards.

Boats 16 Feet To Less Than 26 Feet

  • Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets)

    Recreational boats must carry Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible, not stowed in bags, locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use. There must be one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., PLUS one Type IV throwable device. Throwable, Type IV PFDs may no longer be substituted for wearable types on boats less than 16 feet. State laws on mandatory PFD wear may vary.

  • Fire Extinguishers

    At least one B-1 type Coast Guard-approved hand portable fire extinguisher. Not required on outboard motorboats less than 26 feet long and not carrying passengers for hire if the construction of such motorboats will not permit the entrapment of explosive or flammable gases or vapors, and if fuel tanks are not permanently installed.

  • Visual Distress Signals

    Must carry approved visual distress signals approved for daytime and nighttime use. For pyrotechnic devices (handheld or aerial red flares, floating or handheld orange smoke, and launchers for aerial red meteors or parachute flares) a minimum of 3 required, in any combination that totals 3 for daytime and 3 for night use. Three day/night devices will suffice. Devices must be in serviceable condition, dates not expired and stowed accessibly. Exceptions are open sailboats less than 26 feet long and not equipped with propulsion machinery, and manually propelled boats; both required to carry only night signals.

  • Bells, Whistle

    Every vessel less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) long must carry an efficient sound-producing device.

  • Ventilation (Boats built BEFORE 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flashpoint of 110° F or less.

  • Ventilation (Boats built AFTER 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and fuel every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except those having permanently installed tanks vented outside the boat and containing no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine with a cranking motor must contain power-operated exhaust blowers controllable from the instrument panel.

  • Backfire Flame Arrestor

    One approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors. Device must be marked to show compliance with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 Standards.

Boats 26 Feet To Less Than 40 Feet

  • Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets)

    Recreational boats must carry Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible, not stowed in bags, locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use. There must be one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., PLUS one Type IV throwable device. Throwable, Type IV PFDs may no longer be substituted for wearable types on boats less than 16 feet. State laws on mandatory PFD wear may vary.

  • Fire Extinguishers

    At least two B-1 type approved portable fire extinguishers; OR at least one B-2 type.

  • Visual Distress Signals

    Must carry approved visual distress signals approved for daytime and nighttime use. For pyrotechnic devices (handheld or aerial red flares, floating or handheld orange smoke, and launchers for aerial red meteors or parachute flares) a minimum of 3 required, in any combination that totals 3 for daytime and 3 for night use. Three day/night devices will suffice. Devices must be in serviceable condition, dates not expired and stowed accessibly. Exceptions are open sailboats less than 26 feet long and not equipped with propulsion machinery, and manually propelled boats; both required to carry only night signals.

  • Bells, Whistle

    Every vessel 39.4 feet (12 meters) long, but less than 65.6 feet) (20 meters) must carry a whistle and a bell. The whistle must be audible for 1/2 nautical mile. The mouth of the bell must be at least 7.87 inches (200mm) in diameter.

  • Ventilation (Boats built BEFORE 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flashpoint of 110° F or less.

  • Ventilation (Boats built AFTER 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and fuel every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except those having permanently installed tanks vented outside the boat and containing no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine with a cranking motor must contain power-operated exhaust blowers controllable from the instrument panel.

  • Backfire Flame Arrestor

    One approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors. Device must be marked to show compliance with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 Standards.

  • Placards

    Every vessel 26 feet or larger must display oil and garbage placards.

Boats 40 Feet To Less Than 65 Feet

  • Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets)

    Recreational boats must carry Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible, not stowed in bags, locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use. There must be one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., PLUS one Type IV throwable device. Throwable, Type IV PFDs may no longer be substituted for wearable types on boats less than 16 feet. State laws on mandatory PFD wear may vary.

  • Fire Extinguishers

    At least three B-1 type approved portable fire extinguishers; OR at least one B-1 type PLUS one B-2 type.

  • Visual Distress Signals

    Must carry approved visual distress signals approved for daytime and nighttime use. For pyrotechnic devices (handheld or aerial red flares, floating or handheld orange smoke, and launchers for aerial red meteors or parachute flares) a minimum of 3 required, in any combination that totals 3 for daytime and 3 for night use. Three day/night devices will suffice. Devices must be in serviceable condition, dates not expired and stowed accessibly. Exceptions are open sailboats less than 26 feet long and not equipped with propulsion machinery, and manually propelled boats; both required to carry only night signals.

  • Bells, Whistle

    Every vessel 39.4 feet (12 meters) long, but less than 65.6 feet) (20 meters) must carry a whistle and a bell. The whistle must be audible for 1/2 nautical mile. The mouth of the bell must be at least 7.87 inches (200mm) in diameter.

  • Ventilation (Boats built BEFORE 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flashpoint of 110° F or less.

  • Ventilation (Boats built AFTER 8/1980)

    At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and fuel every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except those having permanently installed tanks vented outside the boat and containing no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine with a cranking motor must contain power-operated exhaust blowers controllable from the instrument panel.

  • Backfire Flame Arrestor

    One approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors. Device must be marked to show compliance with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 Standards.

  • Placards

    Every vessel 26 feet or larger must display oil and garbage placards.

 

 

 

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