Safety is key when renting any boat. Below are Coast Guard requirements for recreational boating.
- All vessels must be equipped with one US Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket, type I, II, III, or IV for each person on board or for those being toward on water (ie. those using tubes, skis, etc.) Please check your state laws regarding requirements for wearing Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) for children, watercraft, and water sports.
- Every vessel less than 65 ft (20 m) long must carry a sound-producing device (a bell or whistle.) On federally controlled waters, vessels longer than 65 ft (20m) must carry a whistle and a bell.
- Vessels less than 26 ft (7.9m) long must carry one B-l type-approved, hand-portable fire extinguisher. This is not required for outboard vessels that are less than 26 ft in length and of open construction. Vessels that are 26 ft (7.9m) to less than 40 ft (12.2m) must carry two B-l type or one B-ll type-approved, portable fire extinguishers. If your vessel is 40 ft (12.2m) to 65ft (19.8m), you must carry three B-l type or one B-l type plus one B-ll type-approved, portable fire extinguishers.
- Vessels less than 16 ft (5m) long must carry approved visual distress signals for night-time use. Vessels larger than 16 ft (5m) must carry approved visual distress signals for both day and night-time use.
- Mechanically propelled vessels must have an anchor and line.
Before you leave the dock, check to make sure your rental boat has all of the required safety equipment listed below.
Check to see what communication equipment your vessel has on board. Have a list of local contact numbers handy (marinas, locks, etc.) to carry with you. We strongly recommend you bring a cell phone or marine radio.
Look to see that the boat is well maintained. If you see problems, consider whether it is safe to take it out. Inspect the vessel for scratches, stains, cracks, dents, prop damage, etc. If you find any issues, please contact the boat owner before accepting the keys. You do not want to get blamed for any issues you did not cause.
Check to see that the boat has paddles, oars, and dock lines. Although they are not needed, we recommend having them before heading out.
Consider your level of boating knowledge and experience. If you are a beginner, you might want to consider taking a boat safety course approved by your state. At the very least, you can ask the boat owner to take you out on the water for a familiarization tour of your rental boat. Boat owners can fully explain all the rules of the water, including how to read charts and navigate the waterway.