Coast Guard Check: What to Expect

If you have been sailing on any major body of water, you’ve probably seen a Coast Guard vessel at least once. A special branch of the military, the Coast Guard’s task is to enforce maritime laws and make sure that boaters are adhering to them. They keep the water a safe place and offer help when an osv vessel or a boater is in distress.

The Coast Guard has the right to board boats at random and as they see fit, including an offshore support vessel. Though they are there to ensure safety, when they board your ship, it can be a bit intimidating. If you do happen to be stopped by the Coast Guard and they board your ship, remember to relax and follow their instructions. If you are following maritime rules and your boat is well-maintained, their inspection will go quickly and you will be able to get back to enjoying your sail.

If you’ve never experienced a Coast Guard check, here’s a look at what you can expect during their boarding.

The Coast Guard is Different than the Police

While both the Coast Guard and the Police enforce laws, it’s important to know that the two are different. Unlike the police, the Coast Guard doesn’t have to abide by a protection of privacy policy. While they may ask permission to board your ship, they don’t have to. They have the right to board any ship they see fit and can do so, whether you grant their request for permission or not. Furthermore, the Coast Guard can inspect your entire vessel, while the police are only limited to inspecting things that are in plain sight and seem like they may be off.

Keep in mind, however, that while these differences between the Coast Guard and the Police might seem frightening, they are simply doing their job – protecting you and every other boater on the water. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see the Coast Guard out making inspecting, especially at times when the waterways are particularly busy. If you sail regularly, you’ll probably experience a check every year or two.

What is a Coast Guard Boarding Like?

There are several ways the Coast Guard can approach your boat. If they want to board your boat, they might contact you through VHF to let you know that they are intending on inspecting your vessel. Though could also send out a boarding skiff, complete with a siren, in the direction of your boat. They might even announce their intention to board on a megaphone or loudspeaker.

Whichever method the Coast Guard uses to let you know they intend onboarding, you should immediately pull away from traffic and turn off your engine so they can safely board, unless you are instructed otherwise.

What Happens During the Check?

Coast Guard checks can differ from vessel to vessel and are completely dependent on the situation. With that said, however, there are some specific procedures that they will follow. A minimum of three officers will be involved in the procedure; one will remain on the Coast Guard boarding vessel, one will remain with you, and the other (or the remaining officers) will inspect your long island boat rental.

You will be asked questions about the contents of your ship, including whether or not you have any weapons on board, and if so, where they are located. You won’t necessarily have to hand your weapons over, but you do have to let the Coast Guard know that they are on board and where they are situated. You might also have to show permits for the weapons. Officers have the ability to check all areas of your boat. Whether they do or not is up to their discretion, but they will inspect the areas where safety concerns tend to lie. These locations include:

  • The engine compartment. If an engine isn’t well-maintained or is faulty in any way, a vessel can become a serious safety hazard. As such, the Coast Guard will inspect the engine compartment to make sure that everything looks in order. If they find anything that could put the integrity of the engine at risk, they might determine that your boat is unsafe to sail.
  • First aid. A first aid kit is a vital feature on a boat, which is why the Coast Guard will inspect it. All necessary items should be present, in excellent condition, and should not be past their expiry date.
  • Flares. They’ll also check out your flares and other signaling items to make sure that they are present, operable, and not past the expiry date.
  • Life jackets. The number of life jackets on your vessel must match the number of passengers. You must also have life jackets that are designed for the age and size of each passenger. The Coast Guard will check your life jackets to make sure that no violations exist.
  • Escape areas. The Coast Guard may also want to check your escape hatches to make sure that they can be accessed and opened easily.
  • Horns and lights. Lights and horns are important signaling devices, so don’t be surprised if they are inspected during a Coast Guard boarding.

What if a Violation is Found?

The objective of a Coast Guard check is to certify the safety of boats on waterways. If a violation is found during a check, the Coast Guard will follow-up with the necessary actions. For example, if it is determined that your vessel is unsafe, you could be escorted back to shore and told that you cannot return your boat to the water until the issue is fixed and you use boat slips long island. If the problem is less severe, you may be issued a written warning that explains what needs to be corrected. You will likely be required to send proof that you have made the necessary correction.

If you properly maintain your boat, adhere to maritime laws, and are a safe boater, a Coast Guard check will be a simple and painless process.