May 2007

What Is A Vessel Safety Check?

The Vessel Safety Check is a FREE bow-to-stern inspection of your boat by a qualified member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons®. It’s your best way to learn about potential problems that might put you in violation of state or federal laws, or — worse — create danger for you or your passengers on the water.

Things can go wrong on the water, with dangerous — even fatal — results. That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you get a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) every year.

Your Only Risk Is Not Having One

Vessel Examiners issue no citations. There are no penalties for not successfully completing a Vessel Safety Check.

Vessel Examiners provide you with a copy of the vessel safety check form, allowing you to make the recommended safety improvements at your own discretion.

And, while the VSC decal won’t necessarily preclude boardings by law-enforcement authorities, it can give you confidence that such encounters are as positive as possible.

Need another reason? A large number of major insurance providers offer discounts for boats that successfully pass a Vessel Safety Check!

How It Works

A Vessel Examiner will meet you at your boat at a prearranged time or during a VSC event at a marina, boat ramp, etc. The examiner will check the presence and condition of approximately 15 items required by state and federal regulations.

Additionally, they will discuss items that are recommended but not required — and answer your questions on boating safety.

A typical Vessel Safety Check takes approximately 20 minutes. At the conclusion of the check, you’ll receive a copy of the Vessel Safety Check form and — if your vessel successfully meets all the requirements — a VSC decal will be presented on the spot.

What Does A Vessel Safety Check Cover?

Vessel Safety Checks are customized for various size powerboats, personal watercraft (PWCs), sailboats, and even kayaks, canoes, or rowboats. Use this “quick list” to see if you are ready for your free VSC. This list includes items that are required, along with recommended and discussion items.

Vessel Safety Checklist



Display of numbers*



Registration / documentation*



Life jackets (PFDs)*



Visual distress signals (VDS)*



Fire extinguishers*






Backfire flame control*



Sound-producing devices*



Navigation lights*



Pollution placard*



MARPOL garbage placard*



Marine sanitation devices*



Presence of Navigation Rules*



Unique state and/or local requirements*



Overall vessel condition*



Deck free of hazards and clean bilge*



Safe electrical and fuel systems*



Safe galley and heating systems*



Marine VHF radio



Dewatering device & backup



Mounting of fire extinguishers



Anchor & line for area



First Aid and PIW kits



Inland visual distress signals



Capacity certificate of compliance



Owner responsibility for accident reporting



Offshore operations



Nautical charts and navigation aids



Survival and first aid tips



Fueling and fuel management



Float plan filing and weather & sea conditions



Insurance considerations



Boating checklist



Safe boating classes



*required items

How Do I Request A Free Vessel Safety Check?

Visit or call 1 (800) 368-5647. For more information, contact Tom Nunes at (480) 759-5548 or on his cell at (602) 617-1979.