Can a boat use rope lights as navigation lights?

Question: Recently when I was out underway I say a boat that had red and green rope lighting for nav lights. The lighting was were your rub rail would be. It appeared that the rope was close to giving proper angle. They ended the lights on the curve of the bow. Would something like this be acceptable?

Answer: It sounds like what you are seeing are the new LED lights. If the boat is new and if the lights were installed by the manufacturer, then it would pass an inspection for a Vessel Safety Check (VSC). If someone installed a piece of rope light, then they are not. Lights need to be USCG approved and each side should shine 112.5° from center.

Can a VSC be done at a mooring?

Question: I am unable to bring my boat to a dock. Can I get an inspection at my mooring?

Answer: The owner or operator of the boat must be present during the examination. The boat may be examined out of the water, such as on a trailer for transport, or in the water safely afloat at normal trim with adequate freeboard at dockside only. To find an examiner, please visit our I want a Safety Check! website.

Wanting to obtain a yacht certification.

Question: I recently purchased a 53' x 15' steel hull "houseboat" in Texas. I am trying to obtain a yacht certification and do not know where to turn as I have no idea if there is a capacity limit on a vessel this size in my state. I did not finance the vessel I paid cash. I intend to use it for private use and may occasionally rent it out. It is still registered with the state of Texas and is in a slip on a lake in Texas where I intend to keep it. I have not transferred the title yet because I was going to wait until the current registration expires in 03/13. Also, are there any types of certifications that I need to obtain from the Coast Guard? Please help.

Answer: The first thing you need to do is register the boat with the state in which you intend to use the boat. If you intend to do any financing on the boat, it may need to be documented with the Coast Guard, but if the lending institution does not require it, you can skip that step. If you were renting out the boat, the insurance company should be aware of that. They may require an additional premium and a charter policy.

Will the domain name continue to be used?

Will the web address still continue to be a good web address in the future? I know that it sends you to the V dept's home page but is much easier for the public to remember.

Yes it will as it has many years of "branded" name recognition and is as you said, easier to remember.

How do I change the name of a documented vessel?

Question: I have recently purchased a boat that I have changed the name that was on the stern with another of my own. How can I register the new name with the Coast Guard?

Answer: If your vessel is documented with the Coast Guard, you can contact the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) to change the name.

The name and/or hailing port may be changed by filing an application for change on form CG-1258 (PDF document) with the appropriate fees. If your vessel is subject to a mortgage of record, you must obtain permission from the mortgagee on form CG-4593. (PDF document)

For more information, visit the NVDC's Frequently Asked Questions section.

Also, you can contact the state agency in your state that handles boat registration to see if they have any requirements in changing your boat's name.

Please note: To view and print PDF documents, you must use the Adobe Reader software, which is available for download without charge.

Can Foreign Vessel's Get VSC

Question: May a 54' vessel registered for pleasure in New Zealand and visiting the United States receive a VSC decal?

Answer: I'm sorry but under our manual's list of restrictions: "Vessels Not Eligible For Vessel Safety Check:" is "Vessels registered in countries other than the United States and its territories."

Capacity Plate Requirement

Question: Is the vessel's passenger capacity required to be visible ? If not it should be listed on your 15 point safety check. The recent NY accident, could be the reason.

Answer: Under the U.S. Coast Guard Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, boats less than 20 feet powered with an inboard, outboard, or stern drive engine manufactured after November 1, 1972, must display a capacity plate defining the safe load limits. This plate must be mounted where you can see it when preparing to get underway. Sailboats, canoes, kayaks and inflatable boats are exempt from this standard.

They are generally near the helm of the vessel. Boats manufactured prior to 1971 are exempt from the requirement. It is in our 15 items as shown under recommended Item as it is not a safety requirement in the Federal Regulations.

Age Requirement to Operate a Jet Ski

Question: How old do you have to be to operate a jet ski?

Answer: You would need to contact your state's law enforcement agency as each state has their own requirements. We have links to most of the state boating authorities on this web page:

Do I need a oar or paddle?

Question: I have heard that an oar/paddle is required safety equipment on power boats up to a certain length. I cannot find any reference to this requirement and am wondering if this is really a required item?

Answer: This was a requirement years ago, before 2000 and this is what I found:

"All boats less than 16 feet in length must carry a second method of propulsion. A paddle, oar, water ski, or other suitable device meets this requirement."

It is no longer a requirement for the award of our VSC Decal.

Mail me a VSC Decal?

Question: I just had my boat checked last weekend at Lake Washington. It passed but they said that they didn't have any safety check stickers for my window. They said that one could be mailed. How would I get it?

Answer: The Vessel Examiner should have left you a copy of the Vessel Safety Check with his or her name and phone number on it. It is against our policy to mail or simply give the VSC decal to the boater without actually being there to personally apply the decal or supervise it being applied.

Call the volunteer and tell him or her what I said in this reply and that it must be either applied or supervised by the volunteer.