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Boating Know How
Vessal Safety Checklist

Vessel Safety Checklist

When claiming ownership over a boat, it is important for boaters to put their boats on constant maintenance so it can remain safe for them and additional passengers. Boat owners can ... read more do this by consistently undergoing vessel safety checks as designated by the United States Coast Guard. These safety checks include more than regularly repairing the engine or re-layering the gel coat. Some of the key tasks to accomplish in a vessel safety check are listed below (this can be done by a local dealership or any qualified organization):

1. Registration numbers must be clearly visible on the hull— registration numbers will be on the front sides of the hull, on both the port and starboard sides. Make sure the lettering is in a readable font with a color that contrasts the background. For instance, if it were a white boat, you would want dark lettering (black, charcoal gray, etc.).

2. Official documents and papers must be on board at all times—just as you would keep official documentation and registration in your car's glove compartment, you must do the same for your boat. Keep the papers on the boat so it is easy to verify certification and ownership.

3. Always make sure there are a sufficient number of Personal Flotation Devices—life jackets are perhaps one of the more crucial objects to keep on board at all times. Life jackets must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and must be suitable sizes for all ages and weights. Depending on what kind of vessel, you will need certain types of life vests.

4. Visual Distress Signals—in any critical emergency, possessing a visual distress signal (specifically a flare/flare gun) will help to save your life and the lives of others. It is suggested to have three days and three night pyrotechnic devices. In less critical situations, such as a passenger falling into the water, every boat should contain one-day non-pyrotechnic device, such as a portable orange distress flag. Other recommended devices for various scenarios include strobe lights, signal mirrors, flashlights, and lanterns.

5. At least one fire extinguisher should be on board—depending on the size of your boat, you may need two or more. Fire extinguishers come in certain grades. Keep in mind, the grade of the fire extinguisher depends on the length of the boat. The requirements are as followed:

a. 26' and below = one B-1 extinguisher
b. 26 to 40' = two B-1/one B-2
c. 40' to 65' = three B-1/one B-1 & one B-2

6. All boats must have proper ventilation installed—whether you have gasoline engines in closed compartments or fuel tank compartments, ventilation is required. You can choose between natural or powered ventilation. Ventilation will keep your boat from taking serious damage or causing harm to others.

There are several other qualifications and requirements that you must keep in mind when getting a vessel safety check, such as obtaining navigation lights, sound producing devices, backfire flame control, and so on. We do recommend seeking out the advice of a local dealership or mechanic in this process.

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Simple Safety Ideas while Boating

Boating is a recreational activity that is undertaken by people from all walks of life. Whether is a simple activity such as fishing or an adrenaline pumping one like white water rafting, it is important for boaters to ensure that they adhere to standard safety measures. Boating safety courses and classes are now available all over the country. ... read more These courses teach boaters basic safety measures they can take to prevent accidents. They also cover the aspect of dealing with accidents and preventing deaths. At the end of these courses, boaters are certified by their respective institutions having passed the set tests.

For those who cannot afford this class, online sites such as Blog and Boating Safety Resource Center have safety tips that you can easily read and familiarize yourself with before embarking on a boating trip. Some of these tips include:

Have a safety checklist

Before embarking on any boating trip, you should have a safety checklist on board. This checklist should have all the safety items you will require on your boat. Check each item on the boat as per the list and replace items that are worn out or missing.

Read the weather

You should be up-to-date with the weather conditions in your location. You should also learn how to observe the physical weather changes incase the radio forecasts are not accurate. Changing tides and clouds are good weather indicators.

Have an assistant

Among your crew, you should pick and assistant who will be able to steer the boat in the event you cannot. If you are with your family, include an extra navigator to help you out in controlling the boat.

Check the boat

The US Coast Guard offers free safety checks that you can take advantage of. As a boater, you should ensure your boat is properly functioning before you take it into the water. You would not like an incident where you get stranded in the middle of the sea or ocean with no one to offer you assistance. Radio and navigation gadgets should also be checked and certified to be in proper working condition.

Use life jackets

Life Jackets

Life vests are the most essential items on a boat. In the case of an accident, these vests will save you from drowning. Statistics show that a majority of victims of boat accidents who die do so because they were not wearing a life vest. It is important to make sure every occupant on a boat has their life jacket on and properly fastened.

Swimming classes

Swimming is another safety measure that boaters should be well aware of. It makes no sense going on a boating trip and being around water when you know you cannot swim. Swimming lessons start from the tender age of 4 so it should not be an excuse for anyone to lack this essential skill.
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Boating Safety Tips

It’s gorgeous outside and you must be eager to get on the water. Sometimes we are too excited about what lies ahead to really prepare for the adventures, excitement and necessary safety steps associated with boating. Here is a short and easy list of preparations to consider prior to boating to ensure a safe venture to sea! ... read more
  1. Get a weather report. You should not only watch a weather report prior to launching, but consistently keep up to date on the weather while at sea. Conditions can change in an instant, especially in the summer months. Bring a portable radio with you on your trip and stay tuned for any updates. Most VHF transceivers have built-in NOAA weather radio channels as well. You may also rely on AM/FM channels, television, or you can access weather advisories via smart phones. If a Small Craft Advisory is announced, meaning forecasted winds of 18 to 33 knots or hazardous sea conditions, head for shore as quickly as possible. Because water conducts electricity, it is also important to head for land at the first sign of lightning.

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  3. Know the basics. There are standard pieces of safety equipment that every boat must carry. Always have readily available a US Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device for each individual on the boat as well as a Type IV throwable flotation device and in many states, an audible warning device (we call it a horn). You should also always have on board a tow line, jumper cables, spare propulsion (such as a paddle, oar, or spare propeller), a fire extinguisher, audible and visual distress signals, and something to use for bailing in the event of an accident. Some additional items that may or may not be on your checklist include a flashlight, first aid kit, boarding ladder, tool kit, extra rope, duct tape, extra drinking water, extra batteries and spare spark plugs. Finally, it is important to have a VHF Marine Band Radio. Although it is not required by law, it is a vital piece of safety equipment.
  4. Make a travel plan. Create a “float” plan and leave it with a friend or family member who will remain on shore. Include any details about where you are headed, when you are leaving and when you anticipate returning. You may also want to include who will be on board and a description of your boat. In the event that you should require assistance, these details may be helpful in reaching you.
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  6. Be familiar with the law.As Captain, you are responsible for the safety of those on board, and in some cases, other boaters on the waters. You must know and obey the laws that govern your waterway, and also be familiar with distress signals and navigational lights. Some simple rules of thumb for boating include:a.If two boats are destined to meet perpendicularly, the vessel that has the other on their starboard side must keep out of the way, and must either alter their speed or turn to cross behind the other boat.b.If two boats are bound for a head-on meeting, each must move starboard, so that the other passes on the port side, to avoid collision.c.Powerboats must yield to sailboats and boats being rowed or paddled.d. Never jump a wake. Rather, cross at low speeds and keep your eyes open for skiers and towables.

    e. Comply with absolutely all signs and respect barriers, including speed limits, no-wake zones, etc.

    f. Don’t drink and boat, or consume any other kind of mind-altering substances while you are boating. These impair your ability to reason and make sound judgment. Almost half of all boating accidents involve alcohol.


  7. Distribute weight evenly. When loading your boat, belongings should be distributed evenly and kept at as low of a weight as possible. You should also know and keep within your boat’s capacity. When changing seats in a small boat, stay low and near the center.
  8. Consult NBOA’s checklist for pre-launching (see last month’s “Review” for the check list). Follow some basic guidelines on how to prepare for launch.
  9. Know your boat and be familiar with your surroundings. Everyone on a boat is an active participant on that vessel from the moment they step on to the second they get off. It is imperative that each individual knows safety precautions and the location of all safety equipment on board in the event of an emergency. Do you know how to tie a knot; the right kind of knot for the application? Did you know that five short taps on the horn mean danger in nautical sound signals? Do your passengers know where the first aid kit is on your boat? Do they know how to operate the vessel in the event of an emergency? Consider the risks of boating and how imperative it is that each person on board has the knowledge of the Captain.
  10. Improve your boating skills. Take a beginner or experienced boating safety course. The United States Power Squadron, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Sailing Association and the American Red Cross all offer boating safety courses that will keep you up to date. Participating in a boating safety course may make you eligible for insurance discounts. To find out more about getting specialized insurance to give you peace of mind when you’re out on the water, contact your NBOA representative.

NBOA Marine Insurance is a purveyor of value: quality, impeccable customer service and competitive insurance rates. We say it time and time again, at NBOA Marine Insurance, our marine insurance agents are also boating enthusiasts. We have extensive knowledge of the water, and have made it a priority to educate the marine savvy on the many things we have gathered throughout the years. To learn more about NBOA, visit or call an agent directly at 1-800-248-3512.

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Distress Signals on the Water

What would you do if you were stranded off shore and needed some help? What if you were miles and miles away from any land? This is why there are several different options for distress signals that you can use, if they are available. Not everyone will have all types of signals. Having a radio to contact someone would be the best, but not all vessels will have one. ... read more The first two, you probably, will never be without. Waving your arms until you grab someones attention. This, obviously will only work if your are close to shore or have other vessels close by. The second is Fog horns continuously sounding. Now you may not have a fog horn on your boat, but that is what the boat horn is for. Almost every boat will have one. This should work farther away from shore, but not by much. But that is why they tell you to do it continuously.

Distress Signals on the water

Now another signal for others, if your boat is on fire, would be the flames and smoke. Hopefully someone passing who sees smoke is nice enough to come help with fire extinguishers or to get the proper help. But flames and smoke is pretty hard to miss.

There are several other items that should be on your boat at all times. Better to have and not need, then to need and not have. Flags, either an orange flag with a black square and a black circle, or a black square flag and ball. A flare gun or dye in the water.

You can also have person tracking beacons called EPIRBs on hand. If your curious as to what an EPIRB is, click here to learn all about them. All you have to do is switch one of these puppies on and wait.

Distress Signals Chart

There are more you can do, Moarse Code, flashlights, other flags, radio transmissions, but we just wanted to highlight a few. Hopefully none of you will ever have to use these signals, but its always nice to know and have. Good luck and happy boating everyone!!
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Preparing Your Own Ditch Bag

With all the hubabaloo going around about the end of the world in December, it brings to mind a time growing up when my parents talked about food storage and preparing for the worst. We all made our own 72 hour packs that would sustain us if we got separated from the house. It had some water bottles, trail mix and beef jerky (as these would last a long time and wouldn't get bad), hand warmers, a blanket, flashlight, and a little first aid kit. I am sure that there was more to it, but I haven't kept up on replacing things inside. ... read more

Being out on the water, you don't have 72 hours kits. You would have, what is called a ditch bag. Something that you could throw over board if your boat started sinking and the things inside would not get wet. It also keeps everything you need together and easy to grab if going down. These things inside are basically the same essential items needed to keep you alive until rescue.

For a basic ditch bag:

  1. PLB - personal locator beacon. Great back up to the EPIRB and easier to use inside a raft.
  2. Serrated knife - should  have a blunt tip and a lanyard that is easy to open one handed.
  3. Braided Cord and Tie Wraps. To keep together what you can salvage.
  4. Orange Rescue Streamers - note, once deployed it will continually signal until dead.
  5. A Strobe. Some strobes can and should double as a flash light.
  6. Flares and signal mirrors.
  7. Sunscreen and seasickness pills, they help prevent dehydration (along with bottles of water. Never drink the salt water, you will become dehydrated more quickly)
  8. Cash, credit card, identification and a plastic bag to keep all that dry.
Now that you have the basics for your ditch bag (For Boating Survival), your ready for the end of the world. Just kidding. Happy boating everyone.
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Coast Guard Safety Checklist

In the boating industry we have the very seasoned boater, like myself, and we have the newer people just getting into the best activity out there. With boating being pretty dangerous, if not properly prepared, the USCG has provided a Vessel Safety Checklist (VSC) that must be approved by a certified Examiner. ... read more

Goast Guard Approved

This checklist is for your own safety as well as the safety of others.
  1. Display of Numbers – Registration numbers must be permanently attached to each side of the boat in plain, vertical, block style, no less then 3” high and in contrasting color.
  2. Registration / Documentation – Registration or Documentation papers must be on board and available.
  3. Personal Floatation Device (PFD) – must be USCG approved and in good, serviceable condition and is required for each person on the boat. Must be suitable sizes.
  4. Visual Distress Signals (VDS) -
  5. Fire Extinguishers -

Boat Length

No Fixed System

With Fixed System

Less then 26'

One B-1


26' to less then 40'

Two B-1 or one B-2

One B-1

40' to 65'

Three B-1 or

one B-1 & one B-2

Two B-1 or

one B-2

  1. Ventilation – Boats with gasoline engines in closed compartments, built after August 1980 must have a powered ventilation system. Ones built prior must have natural or powered ventilation.
  2. BackFire Flame Control – All gas powered I/O or O/B boats must be equipped with an approved backfire flame control device.
  3. Sound Producing Devices/Bell – For distress purposes, all boats must carry a sound producing device capable of a 4 second blast that can be heard at least 1/2 mile away.
  4. Navigation Lights – all boats must display lights between sunrise and sunset and in conditions of reduced visibility.
  5. Pollution Placard – boats over 26' with a machinery compartment must display an oily waste “pollution” placard.
  6. MARPOL Trash Placard – boats over 26' operating in US waterways, must display a “MARPOL” trash placard.
  7. Marine Sanitation Devices – any installed toilet must be Coast Guard approved. Overboard discharge outlets must be capable of being sealed.
  8. Navigation Rules – boats 39.4' and over must have a current copy of Navigation Rules.
  9. State and/or Local Requirements – must be met before the VSC decal can be given.
  10. Overall Vessel Condition: as applies
  • Deck Free of Hazards / Clean Bilge
  • Electrical – Fuel Systems – must be protected by fuses and circuit breakers. Portable tanks must be non breakable material and free of corrosion and leaks and properly secured with a vapor tight, leak proof cap. Permanent tanks must be properly ventilated.
  • Galley – Heating Systems – System and fuel tanks must be properly secured with no flammable materials nearby.
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How To Prepare My Boat for a Hurrican

Hurricane Boat Preparation – 5 Crucial Guidelines To Avoid Disaster

Every boat owner always dreads the thought of being in the centre of a hurricane. Sadly, however much we would just love to avoid the situation; this natural catastrophe is bound to happen at some point in time. Unfortunately, the timing ... read more of the disaster can never be foretold hence it may strike when you least expect. The only way to minimize the damage and also avoid the loss of life is through proper hurricane boat preparation.

To come up with the most feasible strategy, it is necessary to think of the following steps:

1. Planning Ahead

The most important rule in regard to preparing the boat in the event of a hurricane is prior planning. A boat owner needs to have a well laid out plan on what to do, how to do it, and where to go in case of a hurricane. Also, important is having a backup plan just in case the original plan fails. You need to find out if the dock or marina offers safe storage points. Find out if the godown or warehouses nearby can provide rental space. You may also locate a hurricane hole (deep-seated bays shielded by trees).

2. Stay Away From the Water

There is always a popular notion that the hurricane won’t be as destructive in the deep sea compared to the shore. Well, this is just a theory. Many boats have been overturned and ripped into pieces while being stationed in the water. The best way to counter the storm is to avoid the water at all costs. Look for safe zones on dry land or where the water is minimal. Always know how you are going to move the boat from the water onto the dry land. It is always advisable to do a dry run so as to test how effective and quick strategy is.

3. Protect the Boat

During a hurricane, a boat will take quite a beating. There is the risk of flying debris breaking the windows or water entering the vessel. Hurricane boat preparation is meant to lessen the damage. First, you may attach some fenders along the boat. A good alternative is used car tires. They will absorb most of the impact instead of the boat. Secondly, use shatter-proof glass instead of the ordinary glass. You may also use perplex or attach panels to protect the windows and doors. Sealing off the gaps and opening with duct tape is also a good move.

Survival is A Must. Know What to do To Keep Yourself Safe

4. Secure the Boat

If moving the boat becomes impossible, always ensure the boat is securely moored to the dock. This should be done using strong ropes and at several points. Before docking the boat, try to remove as many accessories as you can from the boat. These include electronics, furniture, kitchen appliances, sun shades, antennas, dinghies, or any other items that may cause damage. In addition, make sure no combustible substances are left inside the boat. Ensure the boat doesn’t have excess fuel. Also leave the cockpit drain open and set the bilge pump. The remaining items should be tightly tied up together with a sturdy rope. Finally, disconnect the power.

5. Leave Early

Many people value their boat with their dear life. Maybe it’s because it offers them shelter, or it cost an arm and leg, or simply because it’s symbolic value is priceless. Well, the truth is that your life is not worth the risk. As soon as the alarm is activated, always run as far away as you can from the boat. If you reside in a region that experiences hurricanes quite often, you may need to minimize the items you store inside the vessel. This will give you ample time to escape without worrying so much about the valuables.

No perfect way exists in regard to safeguarding a boat in case of disaster. All that a person can do is planning ahead and always being on standby. Many boat owners plan ahead by protecting the boat through installation of boat fenders, shatterproof windows, waterproofing and more. Unfortunately, due to the strong attachment or the boat being their home, they will stay put when a hurricane strikes. Well, the golden rule when it comes to hurricane boat preparation is always staying away from the vessel. In fact, don’t be anywhere near the water.

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About Safety & Survival

Keeping Safe on the Water with Safety and Survival Products

Be prepared when you hit the waters, so you can enjoy your time out there with family and friends. Before you ever get on the water, you will want to check over your boat to make sure its in good condition and working. Not to mention making sure you have the items you will need in case of any emergency. If not you may get stranded out in the open water. It could be hours or even days before anyone can find you. The items in our Safety and Survival category can and will help you in any situation. We offer everything from coastal/offshore life rafts for the oceanic weekender to boating safety videos just to help increase your knowledge when it comes to marine safety and survival. We have fire suppression systems for accidental fires and survival kits. We even carry a large selection of PFD's for your little ones and yourself.
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