Coast Guard boat on the water

4 Things to Expect During a Coast Guard Check

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Written by Genevieve Agar
February 26, 2018

The Coast Guard is are our friend. They help us in times of distress and help keep our shores safe from all kinds of things. However, if they choose to come aboard your ship, it can be a little intimidating. However, it is nothing to worry about. If your boat is well-maintained, they will be able to do their job quickly and you’ll be back to enjoying your weekend or holiday. Here are four things you should expect should they come aboard:

1) They Have Different Powers than the Police

The first thing to know is that the Coast regularly randomly stops vessels for inspections. Frequent boaters and seasoned captains usually report experiencing this like once every year or so. You need to know that the Coast Guard has the power to board your ship whether you want them to or not so be sure to be polite and they will reciprocate.

They are just doing their jobs. Likewise, police have to have probably to go through your entire vehicle, the Coast Guard does not need this so they may elect to search your whole boat. Either way, if you have nothing to hide than you have nothing to worry about!

2) How Does it Happen

Don’t worry they are not going to swoop down on you from helicopters or chase you with a speed boat. Typically they will hail you from the radio and tell you that they plan to inspect your vehicle. If you don’t answer the call, they might send a small boat towards your ship.

Be sure to move out of the way of traffic and stop your engine unless instructed otherwise. Likewise you might want to latch fenders to where you want them to tie up their boat and deploy anything else they might need. This will make everything go quicker!

3) During the Boarding

Typically boardings last between fifteen and thirty minutes. They will ask you questions and the more clearly and directly you answer them the better. If any weapons on board, be sure to notify the Coast Guard about them and have their respective permits ready.

They will mostly be checking to be sure you boat is safe. This means they will be looking at your emergency equipment, radios, life jackets, alarms, bilges, and everything else you need to keep well-maintained for a safe boat trip.

4) If there is a Violation

The Coast Guard inspects ships primarily to ensure they are safe. Depending on what the issue is will determine their course of action. They generally don’t write tickets you have to pay. For example, if your horns aren’t working properly, they may instead escort you to a marina where you can get things repaired.

They will let you know what you need to do and will keep track of any violations. If anything illegal is found, then you will be handed over to the corresponding authorities. For most people this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you are fishing out of season then you might wind up with a hefty ticket so be careful of things like this.

They are Here to Help

The Coast Guard works to make boating safer for everyone. They want to make sure our waterways are safe both for you and others and are a team of professional. If you are a polite and you boat is well-equipped then the process can go quickly and smoothly and you can get back to your nautical adventure!


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