Boats 16-26 Feet – USCG Minimum Equipment Requirements

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Personal Floatation Devices (Life Jackets)

Recreational boats must carry Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Devices, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable PFDs must be readily accessible, not stowed in bags, locked or closed compartments or have other gear stowed on top of them. Throwable devices must be immediately available for use. There must be one Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board or being towed on water skis, etc., PLUS one Type IV throwable device. Throwable, Type IV PFDs may no longer be substituted for wearable types on boats less than 16 feet. State laws on mandatory PFD wear may vary.

Fire Extinguishers

At least one B-1 type Coast Guard-approved hand portable fire extinguisher. Not required on outboard motorboats less than 26 feet long and not carrying passengers for hire if the construction of such motorboats will not permit the entrapment of explosive or flammable gases or vapors, and if fuel tanks are not permanently installed.

Visual Distress Signals

Must carry approved visual distress signals approved for daytime and nighttime use. For pyrotechnic devices (handheld or aerial red flares, floating or handheld orange smoke, and launchers for aerial red meteors or parachute flares) a minimum of 3 required, in any combination that totals 3 for daytime and 3 for night use. Three day/night devices will suffice. Devices must be in serviceable condition, dates not expired and stowed accessibly. Exceptions are open sailboats less than 26 feet long and not equipped with propulsion machinery, and manually propelled boats; both required to carry only night signals.

Sound Producing Device

Every vessel less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) long must carry an efficient sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn.

Ventilation (Boats built BEFORE 8/80)

At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flashpoint of 110° F or less.

Ventilation (Boats built AFTER 8/80)

At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and fuel every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except those having permanently installed tanks vented outside the boat and containing no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine with a cranking motor must contain power-operated exhaust blowers controllable from the instrument panel.

Backfire Flame Arrestor

One approved device on each carburetor of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors. Device must be marked to show compliance with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 Standards.