Boat Equipment Safety Requirements and Vessel Safety Inspections – Dave Herndon, upper Dymer

boatSafetyThe United Stated Coast Guard requires all boats to maintain minimum safety standards and to have specified safety equipment on board.  Both the US Coast Guard and the Virginia Marine Police can legally board your boat without a warrant and inspect it to see if it meets all required safety standards.

During Memorial Day weekend, the Virginia Marine Police were checking vessels in Dymer Creek for proper vessel operator credentials and vessel safety equipment and writing out tickets to violators.

Fines for not meeting these minimum vessel safety standards can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.  Depending on the size and type of boat, basic required minimum safety standards and equipment vary but in general may include items such as proper registration, hull numbering, fire extinguishers, engine ventilation, navigation lights, life jackets, flares, horns, operator permits, etc.

Members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Power Squadron who have been trained and certified as Vessel Examiners have been authorized by the US Coast Guard to perform free, courtesy inspections of pleasure vessels and to issue annual Vessel Safety Check decals to boats that comply with minimum-required federal and state safety standards. 

This courtesy vessel safety check by an USCG Auxiliary or USPS Vessel Safety Examiner covers the same criteria that are used by the US Coast Guard or Virginia Marine Police with several major differences.

If the Coast Guard or Marine Police find a discrepancy, it could result in major fines to the boat owner.  If a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner or US Power Squadron Vessel Examiner finds a discrepancy, the boat owner will simply get a list of what is needed to fix the discrepancy. No discrepancies found by a CG Auxiliary or USPS Vessel Examiner will be referred to any marine law enforcement official.

Once the discrepancy has been fixed by the boat owner, the Vessel Examiner will return (if desired by the boat owner), re-inspect the vessel, and issue a decal if everything passes.  Another significant advantage of having a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner or US Power Squadron Vessel Examiner inspect your vessel is that the examiner will also discuss recommended (but not required) additional safety equipment such as marine VHF radios, anchors, survival tips, fueling procedures, where to receive boating safety training, and other boating safety topics.

Having a current Vessel Safety Decal on your boat will show others that you meet current safety inspection requirements and will significantly decrease the chance of being stopped, boarded, and inspected by a US Coast Guard vessel.

Any qualified vessel examiner (US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadron) may examine your boat and issue you a Vessel Safety Check decal.  Qualified Vessel Examiners can inspect any type of pleasure vessel from small, paddle craft to large, ocean-going yachts.

I, Dave Herndon, live on Dymer Creek and am a qualified Vessel Safety Examiner.  I will, by appointment, perform a free Vessel Safety Inspection of any Dymer Creek pleasure vessel. To obtain a Vessel Safety Check for your boat, Contact me: Home: 435-2056; Cell: 761-0409; Email:

I will inspect your boat at my home pier at the west end of Dymer Creek (37º 40.823 N; 076º 21.988 W). You will see my restored, 1978 Fisher motorsailer, Wayward Wind, in the slip on the right side of my pier. Tie up at the end of my pier.  If it is not convenient for you to come to my pier, I will make arrangements to boat or drive to your pier to perform the vessel examination.  If for any reason I am unable to inspect your vessel, I can arrange for other local CG Auxiliary or Power Squadron Vessel Examiners to work with you.

Dave Herndon
•    Board Member, DCEPA
•    US Merchant Marine Coastal Masters License, 100 tons (Power, Sail, and Towing)
•    Member, USCG Auxiliary
•    Member,  Northern Neck Sail and Power Squadron
•    Vessel Examiner
469 Long Lane Farm
White Stone, VA 22578
Home/Office: 804-435-2056
Cell: 804-761-0409

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