- EVEN EXPERIENCED BOATERS NEED A VESSEL SAFETY CHECK!
The most cautious boaters can sometimes experience unexpected problems on the water. That's why the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft and paddle sport users, take advantage of the free Vessel Safety Check program every year.
The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is performed at your boat – whether in a slip, at the launch ramp, or in your driveway – by a certified Vessel Examiner, at a mutually-convenient time, and usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending upon the size of your boat.
- What's In it For Me?
Boats that pass the examination are awarded a distinctive VSC Decal that alerts the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol, and other law-enforcement agencies that your boat was found to be in full compliance with all Federal and State boating laws. Frequently, such agencies will not detain or board boats displaying a current-year decal that are otherwise operating safely.
- What If I Don't Pass?
If your boat does not pass, no report is filed. Instead, you are provided a written report that aids you in correcting any discrepancies noted. Often, a quick trip to the local marine chandlery is all that is necessary to obtain missing safety items and easily pass a re-inspection.
- Why Do This?
In a word – safety. You are left with the peace of mind that your boat meets minimum safety standards and that in an emergency, you will have the necessary equipment to save lives and summon help. Additionally, you will avoid substantial fines should you ever be boarded by law enforcement and found to be in violation. Finally, your insurance rates may be lowered – check with your agent.
- Where Can I Get More Information?
The Coast Guard Auxiliary maintains a complete Web site at www.vesselsafetycheck.org that will tell you what you need. While there, you may take a Virtual Vessel Safety Check, find an examiner near your boat, and learn why boats fail. And if you'd really like a comprehensive understanding of the Vessel Safety Check, and how it relates to your boat, you are welcome to download the 52-page Vessel Safety Check Manual that is our examiners' "bible".
But don't delay! Schedule your free vessel safety check as early in the year as you can, and set an example as a safe recreational boater. Remember, visit www.vesselsafetycheck.org or call 1-877-875-6296.
And remember, no vessel is too large or too small to be safe – and in compliance. Your family, friends, and fellow boaters will thank you!