How to get a free vessel safety check this season

Coast Guard boat safety inspections

No cost, no penalty vessel safety checks which up until last season were given more than 150,000 times each year by hundreds of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons volunteers at launch ramps, boat clubs and marinas, are back.

While COVID may still be with us, both groups are ramping up efforts to get vessel examiners back in the field, responding to individual requests from boaters seeking potentially life-saving vessel safety inspections, as well as encouraging new DIY virtual safety checks. With program sponsorship from the Boat Owners Association of the United State, here’s how boaters can get a vessel safety inspection this boating season.

DIY virtual safety check: A new virtual safety check continues the tradition of no-cost inspections by offering a combination of an easily downloadable virtual safety checklist – the same used by actual vessel examiners – along with online guide that makes it easy for any boater to perform their own examination. To start, go here.

Doing a DIY virtual safety check does two things: It can give first-time boat owners a line-by-line recipe for making their boats safe. It can also greatly increase the chances of any boat successfully passing an in-person vessel safety check. Examiners note that it’s often just one or two items, such as expired flare or a burnt-out navigation light, that prevents a boat from earning a passing grade. The Auxiliary and Power Squadrons also note that some boaters desire to earn a vessel safety check decal to display aboard the boat, which can only be earned through an in-person vessel check.

In-person vessel safety check: While COVID has affected many groups, including the Auxiliary and Power Squadrons, each is endeavoring to get vessel examiners in the field this year. The easiest way to find out if a marina, boat club, or launch ramp will be the site of a scheduled vessel safety check event is to contact your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. You can also request an individual vessel safety check at cgaux.org/vsc, but note that scheduled vessel safety events may offer the surest way to earn a vessel safety check decal this season. All in-person vessel safety checks follow COVID safety protocols.

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  1. Trying to get a vessel safety check at Farley Marina

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