ABS Certification, Could you point me in the right direction?

Question: I own and operate a pontoon dredge in the state of Florida. I am looking at bidding Corp of Engineer projects which contain language of a "Coast Guard inspected Vessel" and an "ABS Certification" Could you point me in the specific, right direction to accomplish the two? Thank You

Answer: The best course of action would be for you to contact the Army Corps of Engineers directly.

If you want to do business in Florida, you would be working with the Jacksonville, Fl office in the South Atlantic Division. The main contact number for this office is (800) 291-9405 or (904) 232-2234.

To find the information you are looking for, you should contact their Contract Division at (904) 232-3735. They should be able to answer your questions and inform you of the processes, requirements and procedures necessary to bid on contracts.

Another resource that might be of interest is the Interested in doing business with the Corps? web page. If you want to do business in an area outside of Florida, you should contact the appropriate office.

Bow Riding Question

Question: I have a 21 foot cuddy cabin and I was wondering if someone is allowed to ride on the bow while boat is in motion, I have a rail that goes around the entire bow.

Answer: There is no Federal Law that we are aware of and you would need to check with your local and state authorities to see if they have one.

Safety would dictate some judgment needed here and if there is an appearance of danger a voyage could be terminated. An example would be high speed and waves, wakes, or obstacle's that would cause a sudden turn of the boat that could cause a person to fall in the water and possibly be severely injured or even killed by the boat's propeller.

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."

Fire Extinguishers on 34 Foot Boat

Question: I have a type A,B,C extinguisher on the 34 foot sailboat( diesel engine). I am told I also need a type B2. Is this correct?

Answer: It's almost correct, this is what the rules state for your size boat:

Minimum number of extinguishers required:

Boat Length - No Fixed System - With Fixed System

26' to less than 40' - two B-1 or one B-2 - one B-1

So two B-1 extinguishers or one B2 would be acceptable unless you have a fixed system which you did not mention.

Is Line Required For Throwable Device?

Question: Does your Throwable device need a line or rope attached to it?

Answer: The rule states that Throwable devices shall be "immediately available." But our training shows that good practice is to have a line attached so you can pull the throwable back in if you do not get it close to the target and to be able to pull the person back to the boat as well.

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:


Kill Switch Requirement

Question: What if any are the requirements for "kill switch". I have a 21ft Bayliner with a cabin.

Answer: During a Vessel Safety Check the Kill Switch is one of the many items we check:

Safe 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 to prevent accidental arcing.. If installed, self-circling or kill switch mechanism must be in proper working order. All PWCs require an operating self-circling or kill switch mechanism.

As you can see the PWCs require a Kill Switch be used and in working condition. For your boat if one is installed and I've not seen a modern day boat without one, it must be in working condition. The test is to start the engine and pull the kill switch lanyard to kill the engine. It is generally mounted on the dash by the helm.

Requirements for USCG Safety Gear

Question: Where do I find requirements for USCG safety gear (PFD's, vests, throw ring, placard requirements etc.) for a 38' vessel (recreational boat)?

Answer: Go to our "Virtual VSC" page and then use the Virtual Vessel Examiner tool linked in the second paragraph on that page answering questions about your boat and it will tell you if you pass or not and if not tell you what you still need.

Does a Life Jacket Expire?

Question:Does a life jacket expire?

Answer: There is no expiration date but you should learn to inspect your PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) as seen below I will show you some of the things we look for when checking them. If you have torn, worn and rotted PFDs you may say they have "expired".

Verify that all PFDs for recreational boats have a fully legible instruction label and the Coast Guard approval number is listed. If not, the device does not meet carriage or VSC decal requirements.

Regardless of the number required, examine ALL PFDs on board. PFDs must be free of rips or tears and the flotation material must be free of any indication of deterioration. In PFDs that use kapok, the kapok is enclosed in plastic sacks. Give each compartment the "squeeze" test. Air leaks in the sacks, evidence of moisture, exposure or hardening disqualifies the PFD. Straps and belts on PFDs must be unaltered, free of dry rot, and in perfect working condition. Metal rings or adjusting buckles must be free of excessive rust and corrosion.