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Coast Guard reminding boaters to be prepared for boardings

May 21, 2015

Media Note: Coast Guard spokespersons in your area may be available to discuss the importance of safe boating for the duration of National Safe Boating Week. Please contact us at 216-902-6020 to check on availability. If there is no answer, wait for a voicemail with instruction to be forwarded to a 24/7 on-call duty public affairs specialist.

CLEVELAND — During National Safe Boating Week, the Coast Guard is reminding all Great Lakes boaters they are subject to Coast Guard boardings and should understand the process so they will be prepared if they are boarded while underway.

The Coast Guard may board any vessel, including kayaks, canoes, and personal watercraft, at any time to ensure the safety of those aboard a vessel and others nearby.

On average, boardings of recreational vessels take less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Boaters who have received a free Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel safety check and earned a decal will often find boardings of their vessels to be much faster.

During vessel boardings, Coast Guard boarding teams inspect the following:

  • life jackets, ensuring there is an appropriate-sized one in working condition for each person aboard
  • visual distress signals, such as flares, and their expiration dates
  • sound-producing devices
  • fire extinguishers, when required
  • any other safety equipment required by law

Just like in a motor vehicle, operators should also be prepared to present the vessel’s original registration paperwork and government-issued identification.

Boaters who have been boarded by the Coast Guard in the Great Lakes region are welcome to provide feedback by completing a survey at

The Coast Guard released a new smartphone app for boaters, called United States Coast Guard, Saturday. As the nation's recreational boating safety coordinator, the Coast Guard works to minimize loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm. The Coast Guard's boating safety program involves public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements. The Coast Guard mobile app supports these missions by providing the essential services and information most commonly requested by boaters.

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