Coast Guard Safety Checklist

Goast Guard ApprovedIn 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. 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 ½ 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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