Imagine...Step off the dock onto your freshly buffed yacht. All systems go; Generator purrs, the cabin cool and comfortable, engines start right up. Slide into gear and away you cruise.
Reality....one disaster after another. A/C lines clogged, can't get the canvas unsnapped, battery dead. Frustration and costly maintenance bills are the reason so many boats never leave their slips. Well it doesn't have to be that way. A few simple tips will help you keep your boat running and looking great. Climb aboard!
Check out... Tips & Ideas - articles on Boat Maintenance, Anchoring, Docking, Terminology, Choosing a Boat, and more. Then be sure to visit the Captain's Store where you will find boating accessories, tools, clothing, reference books, and even nautical jewelery and home decor. We even have a list of Freebies for Boaters. Send us your Photos and stories too. Contact us for Captain Services.
Before you can go anywhere, you must outfit your boat.
When it comes to outfitting your boat, there are requirements, recommendations, and luxuries. Since safety is a top priority, let's discuss the required and recommended items first and then we'll have some fun finding some extras that offer comfort, pleasure, or entertainment.
Coast guard approved Vessel Examiners offer as a public service on a vounteer basis, an inspection of the following:
- NUMBERING: The boat's registration number must be permanently attached to each side of the forward half of the boat. Characters must be plain, vertical, block style, not less than 3 inches high, and in a color contrasting with the background. A space or hyphen must separate the letters from the numbers. Place State validation sticker according to State policy.
- REGISTRATION/DOCUMENTATION: Registration or Documentation papers must be on board and available. Documentation numbers must be permanently marked on a visible part of the interior structure. The documented boat's name and hailing Port must be displayed on the exterior hull in letters not less than 4 inches in height.
- PERSONAL FLOATIATION DEVICES (PFDs): Acceptable PFDs (Life Jackets) must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and in good, serviceable condition. A wearable PFD of suitable size is required for each person on the boat. Children must have properly fitted PFDs designed for children. Wearable PFDs shall be "readily accessible". Boats 16 feet or longer must also have one Type IV throwable device "readily available". PFDs shall NOT be stored in unopened plastic packaging. For Personal Watercraft riders, the PFD must be worn.
- VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNALS: Recreational boats 16 feet and over used on coast waters or the Great Lakes are required to carry a minimum of either a) 3 day and 3 night pyrotechnic devices, b) one day non-pyrotechnic device such as a flag and one non-pyrotechnic such as an SOS light OR a comination of a) and b). Recreational boats less than 16 feet need only carry night visual distress signals when operating from sunset to sunrist.
- FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: Fire extinguishers are required if one of the following conditions exists: 1) Inboard engine(s); 2) Double bottom hulls not completely sealed of not completely filled with flotation materials; 3) Closed living space; 4) Closed stowage compartments that contain flammable materials or 5)Permanelntly installed fuel tanks. Recreational boats less than 26 feet, and propelled by outboard motors are NOT required to have fire extinguishers unless one or more of the conditions (2-5) listed above applies. Fire extinguishers must be readily accessible and verified as serviceable. Minimum number of extinguishers required:
No Fixed System
With Fixed System
Less than 26'
26' to less than 40'
two B-1 or one B-2
40' to 65'
three B-1 or one B-1 & one B-2
two B1 or one B-2
- VENTILATION: Boats with gasoline engines in closed compartments, built after August 1, 1980 must have a powered ventilaion system. Those built prior to that date must have natural or powered ventilation. Boats with closed fuel tank compartments built after August 1, 1978 must meet requirements by displaying a "certificate of compliance". Boats built before that date must have either natural or powered ventilation in the fuel tank compartment.
- BACKFIRE FLAME ARRESTER: All gasoline powered inboard/outboard or inboard motor boats must be equipped with an approved backfire flame control device.
- SOUND PRODUCING DEVICES: To comply with Navigation Rules and for distress signaling purposes, all boats must carry a sound producing device (whistle, horn, siren, etc.) capable of a 4-second blast audible for 1/2 mile. Boats larger than 39.4 feet are also required to have a bell.
- NAVIGATION LIGHTS: All boats must be able to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and in conditions of reduced visibility. Boats 16 feet or more in length must have properly installed, working navigation lights and an all-around anchor light capable of being lit independently from the red/green/white running lights.
- POLLUTION PLACARD: Boats 26 feet and over with a machinery compartment must display an oily waste pollution placard.
- MARPOL TRASH PLACARD: Boats 26 feet and over in length, operating in U.S. navigable waters, must display a "MARPOL" trash placard. Oceangoing boats 40 feet and over must also have a written trash disposal plan available onboard.
- MARINE SANITATION DEVICE: Any installed toilet must be a Coast Guard approved device. Overboard discharge outlets must be capable of being sealed.
- NAVIGATION RULES: Boats 39.4 feet and over must have on board a current copy of the Navigation Rules.
- STATE AND LOCAL REQUIREMENTS: A boat must meet the requirements of the state in which it is being examined.
- OVERALL BOAT CONDITION: Including but not not limited to:
- Deck free of hazards and clean bilge - The boat must be free from fire hazards, in good overall condition, with bilges reasonable clean and visible hull structure generally sound. The engine horsepower must not exceed that shown on the capacity plate.
- Electrical and Fuel Systems - The electrical system must be protected by fuses or manual reset circuit breakers. Switches and fuse panels must be protected from rain or water spray. Wiring must be in good condition, properly installed and with no exposed areas or deteriorated insulation. Batteries must be secured and terminals covered. Portable fuel tanks must be constructed of non-breakable material and free of corrosion and leaks. All vents must be capable of being closed. The tank must be secured and have a vapor-tight, leak-proof cap. Each permanent fuel tank must be properly venitlated.
- Galley and Heating Systems - System and fuel tanks must be properly secured with no flammable materials nearby.
Essential to boating safety but not required by law include:
- Tool Kit - It should contain screw drivers, wrenches, pliers, wire clippers, hammer, chisel, files, drill, electrical tape, wire
- Spare Parts and Supplies - Spark plugs, fuel filters, fuses, gaskets, wire, bulbs, motor oil, grease, etc.
- Anchor - A second anchor on board is a must along with ample line or chain.
- Charts - Have an up to date chart for every area in which you may travel.
- Depth Finder - Keeps you from running aground.
- Current and Tide Tables - Invaluable in unexpected situations.
- Boat Hook - Keep it easitly accessible.
- Bilge Pump - If your boat has an engine-operated bilge pump, keep a manual pump as a spare.
- Fenders - Should be stardard equipment.
- Dock Lines - Strong and Long Enough for secure tie ups and use as a tow line.
- First Aid Kit - A Must Have.
- Flashlight - extra batteries as well.
- Binoculars - Helps to identify landmarks, other vessels, and buoys. Essential at night.
- Marine Radio - Operates on VHF/FM frequencies. Channel 16 is used for Coast Guard Search and Rescue. Check weather forecasts regularly.
- Food and Water - Be prepared for unexpected emergencies.
- Deck Shoes - The non-skid type.
- Boarding Ladder - For swimmers or boarding from a dinghy.
- Misc - Seasick and sunburn remedies, insect repellent, sun glasses.
This list could go on and on forever. It's really all about what makes you happy and makes your boating experience enjoyable. These items make excellent gifts.
- State of Art Electronics - GPS, radar, fish finders
- Dinnerware, barware
- Fishing Gear
- Diving Equipment