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Old 15-05-2010, 21:59   #1
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USCG Safety Equipment Requirements

Anyone have any idea what the USCG required safty equipment might be for a vessel of greater than 65 feet?

Also, anyone know where on a boat that measurement might be taken for the USCG requirements?

I'm not really in concideration for such a boat, but it just strikes me as weird that the summaries of the regulations that I can find stop at 65 ft. So if I get a 66 foot boat, I'm under no safty requirements? No way.
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Old 16-05-2010, 13:37   #2
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So I was able to find a link by West Marine as to the required USCG required safty equipmentf or vessels bigger than 65 ft. Following is a link for the history in this forum.

The West Advisor: Safety Equipment

That leads to a question, what about vessels bigger than 165 ft? I assume at some point, they get a requirments for vessls of length X+.

It seems fairly clear to me that the minimum requirements are very minimum.

In anycase, thanks!
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Old 16-05-2010, 15:12   #3
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Originally Posted by ViribusUnitis View Post
So I was able to find a link by West Marine as to the required USCG required safty equipmentf or vessels bigger than 65 ft. Following is a link for the history in this forum.

The West Advisor: Safety Equipment

That leads to a question, what about vessels bigger than 165 ft? I assume at some point, they get a requirments for vessls of length X+.

It seems fairly clear to me that the minimum requirements are very minimum.

In anycase, thanks!
Its just the opposite in fact for large commercial vessels and for mega-yachts for insurance reasons. The requirements are more stringent...such as having to use armored electrical cable, having to have centrifugal oil-water separators, redundancies for all kinds of machinery, higher fire fighting standards, higher grade life boats...the list of higher standards is seemingly endless.

If a mega-yacht meets the standards of a classification society, then it can have lower insurance rates.

All the requirements for US vessels can be found in the CFR's. Its a drag having to go through the CFR's if you are not used to doing this. A classification society such as ABS have their own standards which can meet or exceed those found in the CFR's. Other common classification societies are Lloyds Register and NKK.

If you have a boat built to a US classification, they will meet or exceed the laws described in the CFR's. The CFR's are what the Coasties go by. The Coasties of course do not make these laws.

For pleasure boats in the US, ABYC and NMMA are the most common classification societies which of course do not cover vessels reaching in length into the size of small ships.
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Old 16-05-2010, 15:53   #4
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Let me rephrase.

It seems very clear to be that the Regulations put together by the US coast guard for pleasure vessels are very minimum. Even for very large pleasure yachts.

As I'm reading the CFRs a 50 ton yacht is only required to have 2 B-II fire extingushers. As far as I'm concirned, that is pretty minimum.

While I understand that there are other orgnizations, those orgnizations can't remove your boat from you by a more or less random search. If you don't follow their regualtions, you just don't qualify for the lowered insurance, or the higher levels of safty. Fail a USCG safty check, and it becomes an unpleasent day.
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Old 16-05-2010, 16:02   #5
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As I said, the Coast Guard does not write the regulations. They are codified in the CFR's as law. The Coasties enforce the CFR's. The CFR's in general change with length, displacement, cargo capacity, deck space etc.

As far as the laws are concerned, keep the right safety equipment on board and there won't be any problems should you get boarded for a "safety inspection". Those laws are relatively easy to look up, even for larger vessels. Larger vessels are not getting away with easier safety standards by any means.
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Old 16-05-2010, 18:42   #6
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Viribus, what's your goal here? Are you planning to buy a ship over 165' OAL? But you say 65 or 66 feet? Do you already own one and need to bring it into USCG compliance?

If you can afford to buy anything that big, surely the price of the required safety equipment shouldn't be an issue, since "real" safety equipment inevitably far exceeds the cost of the minimum USCG requirements. For instance, the USCG may require three flares, but if you've spent any time on the water, you already know three 12-gauge Olin flares are worthless and three SOLAS flares will cost you a good 10x-20x more.

You should also be aware that whatever you're trying to find out, the USCG answers phone calls and emails, from their web site or ANY CG STATION. If you call any USCG station with any legitimate question, they can transfer your call to literally any other USCG facilty, or refer you to one directly to get your answer.
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Old 16-05-2010, 20:54   #7
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Actually there is a little misunderstanding here. Just so you know where I am coming from, I am a retired USCG officer and worked at USCG HQ in Office of Boating Safety as both an officer and latter as a civilian engineer. Actually the Coast Guard does write the regulations. Congress passes a law such as the Federal Boat Safety Act, and the act directs some agency to write regulations that implement the law, in this case the USCG. All of the regulations in 33 CFR (recreational boats) and 46 CFR (commercial boats) were written by the USCG. However this is not done in a vacuum. There is a long process in which everyone including you gets to put in their comments. then changes are made before anything is finalized. See Statutes and Regulations New Boatbuilders Home Page - Legal - Statutes and Regulations And yes they are the minimum for safety. Because the Act specifically says

"(a) The Secretary may prescribe regulations -
(1) establishing minimum safety standards for recreational
vessels and associated equipment,"

Boats in the size you are talking about are usually built to some classification rule, such as American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), LLyods, Det Norske Veritas, Rina, and a raft of others. These classification societies develop rules which are usually far more stringent than the US regulations. ABYC for instance, is far stricter than the regulations for recreational boats found in 33 CFFR 181-183. ABS is so strict that the USCG accepts ABS certification the same as USCG certification. When you get up to the 100 foot up range you are talking ships and the rules are a whole different ballgame. Everything is inspected from birth to death.

If you are interested in recreational boat rules you can call 202-372-1073 or FAX 202-372-1934 or email philip.j.cappel@uscg.mil.

If it's commercial or one of the big yachts contact the USCG Marine Safety Center at
(202) 475-3400 USCG Marine Safety Center (MSC)


PS: I know this comes across as sounding a little defensive. Sorry. Just trying to be informative. Too many years as a bureaucrat.
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Old 17-05-2010, 07:52   #8
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Viribus, what's your goal here? Are you planning to buy a ship over 165' OAL? But you say 65 or 66 feet? Do you already own one and need to bring it into USCG compliance?

If you can afford to buy anything that big, surely the price of the required safety equipment shouldn't be an issue, since "real" safety equipment inevitably far exceeds the cost of the minimum USCG requirements. For instance, the USCG may require three flares, but if you've spent any time on the water, you already know three 12-gauge Olin flares are worthless and three SOLAS flares will cost you a good 10x-20x more.

You should also be aware that whatever you're trying to find out, the USCG answers phone calls and emails, from their web site or ANY CG STATION. If you call any USCG station with any legitimate question, they can transfer your call to literally any other USCG facilty, or refer you to one directly to get your answer.
Mostly I was just curious why I kept finding "minimum safty requirements" for pleasure vessels up to 65 ft with no refference to what happens at 66 ft.

Apperently after your more than 65 ft, it switchs to requirements based on tonnage.
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Old 17-05-2010, 12:04   #9
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By the time you hit something like 32 feet OAL, you are in the top 5% of sailboat owners. As the boat goes above ten meters OAL, the 'recreational' ownership is even smaller. Over 65 feet? You're not in megayacht country by a long shot, but you're rich enough to have people who have people who take care of people who deal with those things like "safety equipment".

And if you've got the wrong equipment and get fined ten grand, no big deal, that's just a dinner bill for most of those folks.
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Old 17-05-2010, 14:01   #10
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It goes even farther than that. Most of the big yachts and Mega Yachts are not owned by individuals. They are corporate property, so everything is a business expense, and when they are not being used a couple of weeks a year by the CEO or whoever is considered to own it, they are being used for business purposes, generally big parties for business associates and politicians. All of which is a tax write off. Highlander, the yacht owned by Malcolm Forbes prior to his death, used to come in to Washington DC every year for several weeks. During that time he would host "meetings" on board for Senators, and Congressmen (or women as the case may be) All this was just part of business, lobbying in Washingotn.

Many of these big yachts are chartered out when not being privately used. This pays the bills and also makes them a business.

All this leads to what standards they have to meet. If they are US flagged it is, for the smaller ones, the rules for vessels under one hundred gross tons, carrying passengers for hire. For bigger ones it's rules for vessels over 100 gross tons. In the UK it's the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency Rules (MCI ) which also apply in places like the Bahamas, the British Virgins, and other former British protectorates. And so on.

Each maritime nation has it's own set of rules, all of which are pretty similar, mainly because the all belong to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which is the umbrella organization for all of the standards for commercial vessels. My boss in the early 90's at USCG HQ went to work for the IMO in London.

As HelloSailor (where have I heard that before?) said the expense is just the cost of doing business. No one, not even Bill Gates, can afford one of these big yachts on their own dime.

PS: in 2000 I took a photo of the yacht Limitless in Fort Lauderdal, at the time the world's largest yacht at 96 meters LOA. When I checked on it I found it had it's own corporation. All of which is owned by Lesley Wexner owner of the Limited, The Gap, Victorias Secret and others. He has his own Wiki page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Wexner So how do you pay for soemthing like that?

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Old 17-05-2010, 16:04   #11
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You pay for it by being very very very very rich. The Feds changed the corporate/personal write off criteria for pleasure craft more than 10 years ago which made it very hard/impossible to write off the cost of yacht ownership. There may be benefits to corporate ownership but they probably aren't in tax deductions. Anyone who has been to Miami Beach in the winter will have to admit that there are a lot of rich people in the world with all the 'tony' shops, huge mansions and yachts. Eat your heart out, there are a lot of people who can drop 60 plus million dollars in a boat and afford the 6 to low 7 figure annual operating costs and the aren't all American.
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Old 18-05-2010, 10:12   #12
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Public/charter or private?

Basically on vessels larger than 20m (65'7"):
larger navigation lights and longer detection range
at least 1 Type IV PFD along with 1 Type I/II/III for each person, 10% child sizes
more B-I/B-II fire extinguisher requirements
a Type-II/III MSD must be installed and be USCG certified

There may be more but that's off the top of my head. Things get more complicated, and expensive when you pass the 12m, 20m and 50m lengths. And if you want to know the definition of expensive, look at the requirements for a commercial vessel over 50m.
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