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What’s it like to be boarded by the Coast Guard?

What’s it like to be boarded by the Coast Guard?

Being boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard can be a nerve-wracking experience. Whether you’re a recreational boater or a commercial fisherman, the sight of a Coast Guard boat approaching can send your heart racing. But what actually happens during a boarding? Gain firsthand insight from one of our team members.

First-Hand Experience with the U.S. Coast Guard

We recently ran our boat from Sarasota to Marathon and stayed several days at Hawks Cay, where we made day trips to sandbars and local restaurants. The weather was nearly perfect, except for one day. It became unpleasant, but we still enjoyed our boat and vacation.

It was on this day when seas were rough, visibility limited, and rather dismal that the United States Coast Guard decided to board us for a safety inspection of our vessel. We were in about 15 feet of water when the 45′ Coast Guard boat pulled along our 37-footer.

What to Expect During the U.S. Coast Guard Safety Inspection

While we were confident that we’d pass a safety inspection, we had a lot of trepidation when the Coast Guard boat pulled close knowing the damage it could cause to our less than two-year old boat. While we politely “argued” about conducting the boarding in the channel rather than the open water, we were outvoted and two coasties hopped aboard.

Once onboard, the USCG safety check was rather brief. All our safety equipment was inspected along with:

  • Vessel registration/documentation
  • Our ID
  • Life jackets inspection
  • Fire extinguisher inspection
  • Distress signals (flares, whistle)
  • They may also ask to see your logbook or catch records, if you are a commercial fisherman.

  • What Happens After the USCG Boards Your Boat?

    Boating safety is very important to us, so we were prepared and passed the U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection with no issues. However, if they find violations, they may issue warning or fines. In some cases, they may even detain your boat. The USCG team provided us with a Vessel Safety Checklist document and stated that if there is an attempt to board us again in the next six months, we could show proof of this safety inspection, and we would not be boarded. “Semper Paratus” or Always Ready, is the Coast Guards motto, and we knew that they were just doing their job. We took away a better understanding of the important work the U.S. Coast Guard performs. 

    Boating Safety Tips

    Overall, being boarded by the Coast Guard can be an intimidating experience, but it’s important to remember that they are there to keep you safe and ensure that you are following the rules and regulations. By cooperating and having all of your safety equipment in order, you can help make the process go smoothly. Looking to maximize your boating experience while keeping safety a top priority? Look no further! Check out the articles below for expert advice on safe boating and make the most of your time on the water.

  • Tips For Boating In Bad Weather
  • Boating Safety Guideline
  • Filing a Float Plan
  • Top Safety Tips for Pets Aboard
  • Proper Boating Etiquette
  • Basic Tips for Boating with Children
  • Ditch bag ideas for boaters
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