US Coast Guard Auxiliary: It’s time to check your boat’s safety equipment
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US Coast Guard Auxiliary: It’s time to check your boat’s safety equipment

Aug 30, 2023

Every time you go out in your boat is the right time to check your safety equipment.

During the early spring, most of us spend some time cleaning the house, clearing up the yard and generally getting things in condition for the summer months. So, it is with our boats. They, too, need to be checked, cleaned, and updated periodically. Some safety equipment has expiration dates, others may have rust or dirt that lessens their effectiveness.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, now is a good time to check that safety equipment.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) states that “All recreational vessels are required to have size-specific safety equipment on board.” This information can be found online at their website ( The size of your boat determines what specific safety items you need. In addition, in 2021 it became mandatory for vessels under 26 feet to have a safety lanyard with a cut-off switch. (There are exceptions to this. See FWC website.)

There are other items that are not required by law, but the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary recommends that you carry them. Always carry an anchor and line. You never know when you might need to stay put. If you call for help, you won’t continue to drift, making it harder to find you. Although cellphones are handy, they only connect you to one person. If you are experiencing an emergency, you want as many people as you can get to hear your call for help.

A marine radio will broadcast to everyone on the water, as well as the Coast Guard. Remember to always have your marine radio tuned to channel 16. A first aid kit is essential to have on the boat if you are a fisherman. It can come in handy for a variety of other uses, too.

You may have a bilge pump, but it wouldn’t hurt to have something you can use as a bailer like an old milk jug with the bottom cut off.

You can easily find out if you have the safety equipment required by law by having a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary member do a free Vessel Safety Check on your boat. Not only will the vessel examiner let you know what is needed by law, but they will also make suggestions of other helpful safety items you can carry.

There is no penalty if you don’t have everything. You will receive a list of what you’re missing so you can take care of it. If your boat has everything required, you will receive a free Vessel Safety Check sticker for 2023.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary of Crystal River will be conducting free vessel safety checks on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 9-11 a.m., and Monday, Sept. 4, from 9-11 a.m., outside West Marine, 160 U.S. 19 SE, Crystal River.

Stop by early on your way out to go fishing. Take time now to make sure you have what you need for a safe day on the water. Call Linda at 352-423-0712 for more information.

Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard posted an updated fire extinguisher requirement as of April 2022? “If your disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguisher has a date of manufacture stamped on the bottle (example: “05” means 2005), and it is older than 12 years, the extinguisher is considered expired and must be removed from service.” For more information on this, go to -extinguisher-faq.php.

To learn more about safe boating, attend the next USCG Auxiliary Crystal River premier safe boating course, Boating Skills and Seamanship. This course runs 9 lessons from 7 to 9 p.m. starting Wednesday, Sept. 6, through Monday, Sept. 25. Cost: $50 includes a book, materials and certified USCG Auxiliary instructors.

Discount is available for a family member sharing the book.

Location: USCG AUX/DAV building, 501 SE Seventh Ave., Crystal River.

Contact: Linda at 352-423-0712 to register.

For more information about the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary of Crystal River or to pick up safe boating information, stop by West Marine of Crystal River on Sept. 2-4 and check out our display and speak with our members.

You can also attend one of our meetings on the first Monday of each month at the USCG AUX/DAV building located at 501 SE Seventh Ave., Crystal River. For membership information contact Melissa: [email protected].

Linda Jones is public affairs officer for the USCA Auxiliary Flotilla 15-1 of Crystal River.

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