It’s National Safe Boating Week!
Vessel Safety Checks: How to be Safe and Have More Fun on the Water

Do you love boating? Do you want to have more fun and less hassle on the water? Do you want to avoid getting fined or delayed by the police?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider getting a vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGA).

A vessel safety check (or VSC) is a free, voluntary, and confidential service that can help you make sure that your vessel is in tip-top shape, and that you have all the gear and know-how to boat safely. A VSC is not a test that you can pass or fail, but rather a friendly chat with a USCGA vessel examiner who will inspect your vessel and its equipment, review your registration and documentation, and give you some useful tips and advice on boating safety. If your vessel passes the VSC, you will get a cool decal that shows your passion for boating safety (and may encourage the authorities to leave you alone!). If your vessel does not pass the VSC, you will get a helpful report of what you need to fix or improve. You will not get in trouble or face any consequences for failing a VSC!

To get ready for a VSC, you should first check out the USCGA vessel safety checklist, which tells you what items you need and what features you need to have on your vessel, depending on its size and type. The checklist covers things like:

  • Display of numbers
  • Registration/documentation
  • Personal flotation devices (PFDs)
  • Visual distress signals (VDSs)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Ventilation
  • Backfire flame control
  • Sound producing devices/bell
  • Navigation lights
  • Pollution placard
  • MARPOL trash placard
  • Marine sanitation devices
  • Navigation rules
  • State and/or local requirements
  • Overall vessel condition

You should make sure that you have all the required items on board, and that they work properly and are easy to reach. You also should make sure that your vessel is clean, safe, and well-maintained. Also, have your registration or documentation papers handy and available for inspection.

You can request a VSC online or by contacting your local USCGA flotilla, or you can also look for signs of VSC stations at marinas, vessel ramps, or other public places. You can schedule a VSC whenever and wherever it suits you and your vessel, even if it is on a trailer at your home. The VSC usually takes about 30 minutes to complete, depending on the vessel.

Getting a VSC can give you many benefits, such as:

  • Peace of mind: You will feel more relaxed and prepared on the water knowing that your vessel meets the safety standards and that you have the right equipment for any situation.
  • Education: You will learn valuable information and tips from experienced USCGA vessel examiners who can answer your questions and offer advice on boating safety.
  • Recognition: You will get a decal that shows your dedication to boating safety and may make the cops leave you alone on the water.
  • Prevention: You will prevent potential problems or accidents by finding and fixing any safety issues or deficiencies on your vessel before they become serious or costly.

However, a VSC is not a substitute for regular maintenance, proper operation, or safe boating courses. You still are responsible for following all federal, state, and local laws and regulations when operating your vessel. However, a VSC can help you boost your boating safety and enjoyment by making sure that your vessel is ready for the water.

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.

Charles Herd is a Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife-certified Boater Safety Instructor as well!

You can schedule a USCGA Vessel Safety Check by clicking here!




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If you or someone that you know has contracted COVID-19 while on board a cruise ship, you may be entitled to compensation. If so, call the law offices of the Herd Law Firm, PLLC for a risk-free evaluation of your potential case.

Call 713-955-3699 now!

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