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Vessel Owner/Operator should:

1. Collect your State Registration papers, and (if documented) Coast Guard Documentation paper, Personal Flotation Devices (including a class IV throwable device), Visual Distress Signals (be sure these are not expired), and portable Fire Extinguishers, and place them

where they can be conveniently examined-- usually in the cabin area. Also find your carbon monoxide sticker sent to you by the State.

2. Locate your Hull Identification Number (HIN) which was put on by the manufacturer. It is usually found on the starboard stern.

3. If your vessel is Documented you must also locate the Official Number “Permanently Marked on some interior structural part of the hull”

4. Clear an area around the engine box, and/or hatches, so the Vessel Examiner (VE) can visually examine the bilge, battery/box, and holding tank for Y valve. 

5. Demonstrate that your ventilation blower (if equipped), and horn are working properly. 

6. If your vessel is 26’ and over, you will need to show your Pollution placard,

MARPOL Placard, and if 40’ or over, your written “Trash Disposal Plan” and copy of the “Navigation Rules”.


Some Vessel Safety Check Tips

1. The most common cause for failing a VSC is failing to properly apply the vessel numbers and the validation decal. Also most common are running lights which don’t work. On un-documented vessels, the State Registration Numbers must be firmly attached (or painted) on both sides of the bow in block letters & numbers not less than three inches in height, and in a color distinctively contrasting with the background. The number must be read from left to right and include spaces or hyphens the width of the letters (other than I or 1) between the three parts of the registration number. The State registration decal  must be placed on both sides of the bow, aft of and directly on line with the registration numbers and separated at least by the width of a letter (not 1 or I), and not to exceed six inches.  Undocumented vessels must keep the STATE Registration papers onboard (the titles may be left at home).    Coast Guard Documented Vessels must have State registration decals affixed to the forward half of the vessel on each side of the bow. DO NOT display Washington State registration numbers on Documented Vessels. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation papers must be kept onboard, along with the State registration papers. 

2. Next, if you have portable check the pressure gage. It must

also be in the green.

3. Your Visual Distress Signals must not be expired. You need three day and, if you boat at night, three night signals to pass.  Aerial rocket flares qualify as BOTH Day & Night and are highly recommended. You can save the out-of-date ones for emergency backup. VDS’s must be readily available and properly sealed to protect from moisture.

4. PFD’s must be readily available, in good shape, and the USCG approval statement must be legible. A Class 4 throwable cushion must be immediately available, ready to toss. PFD’s must NOT be in sealed bags.

5. Last on the most-likely-list of failures: Navigation lights. Carry spare bulbs and whatever tools are needed to facilitate their replacement.

6. As Vessel Examiners, we are here to help. Don’t hesitate to e-mail, or call us

here to ask questions or schedule a vessel safety check.

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