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United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Vessel Safety Checks

updated April, 2012

by, Rick Schal, USCG Auxiliary

The Vessel Safety Check is a complimentary check of your boat conducted by members of the Auxilliary*, confirming that it meets both federal and state requirements for safety.

Besides determining if a boat meets legal requirements, the Vessel Safety Check is a good opportunity for the examiner to pass along pertinent information to help you be a more-informed boater. For example, a bird's nest was found in the blower duct of an express cruiser last summer after a refueling explosion. Many boaters would not otherwise be aware of this type of information without having their annual screening.

It is worth noting that no citations are issued and the results of the safety check are not reported to any enforcement agency. More importantly, a decal is awarded to display that the vessel has passed the examiniation.



Above, Rick Schal conducts a vessel safety check at Rose Island with a recently-graduated safe boater demonstrating that she has all required equipment.

An example of some of the items checked include:

  • Personal Flotation Devices (life jackets)
  • Registration and Numbering
  • Navigation Lights
  • Ventilation
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Distress Signals (flares, horn, etc.)
  • Battery (cover and connections)


All of these items are currently required by state and federal laws and, if missing or non-operating, can result in a citation if your vessel is inspected by the Coast Guard or other law enforcement agency.

The Vessel Safety Check gives you a risk-free way to check that you meet the legal minimums and to potentially avoid a citation later.

For more information:

  • Visit SafetySeal.net - A website devoted exclusively to the Vessel Safety Check program co-sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Contact a member of the Auxiliary at your local marina.

Rick Schal
Rose Island Yacht Club
(502) 417-5224 to schedule


Editor's Note:

Rick Schal asked me to mention that while he lives close to many marinas and enjoys conducting the checks, boaters can help him out by doing a little preparation. He suggests that you take a few minutes to check for obvious things like documentation or registration, boat numbering and required life vests. That way, you can save him a trip if you find you need something obvious.

There are many places to find such information, one being the "Port KY River Cards," available for free at Marine Sales & Service and Sea Ray of Louisville.

*You will also note that besides the USCG Auxiliary, you can get a Vessel Safety Check from members of the Louisville Sail and Power Squadron, as well as the USCG and law-enforcement agencies.

-Capt. Eric








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