Get a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check…It’s Free & Could Save Your Life!

You’ve taken the shrinkwrap off the boat, tested the engine and are about to get underway for the first time this year. You’ve taken the time to make sure you have the proper number of lifejackets for each passenger and inspected the boat from aft to stern to ensure it’s seaworthy. You cast off all lines and motor out into the channel at idle speed through the no wake area. But before you can even bring the boat up to speed, a Coast Guard boat crew turns on its lights and directs you to stop. As the crew draws near, you begin to wonder what you have done wrong. The officers ask you for your boat registration, immediately sending you into panic mode. You left it in your vehicle. You ask the Coast Guardsmen why they stopped you to which a crewman replies, “Your Maryland registration decal is out of date.”

To help you avoid this embarrassing, and potentially costly scenario, consider getting a free vessel safety check (VSC). The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons members help boaters inspect their vessels to ensure required safety equipment is in good, serviceable condition and that they have the required amount of each specific piece of safety gear on board. These volunteers are trained to inspect everything from fire extinguishers and lifejackets to navigation lights and ventilation systems. Not only will they inspect the equipment, they can give you a brief overview of what you should look for to determine if the equipment is in good and serviceable condition.

The free VSC is performed at your boat – whether in a slip, at the launch ramp, or in your driveway – by a certified vessel examiner, at a mutually-convenient time, and usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, depending upon the size of your boat. The main purpose of the VSC is to educate boaters and help them meet the state and federal inspection guidelines for safety equipment and vessel requirements. If any safety equipment or other important components of the inspection do not meet the guidelines, you will have to fix these items and reschedule another inspection, however there’s never a penalty if you don’t pass. Instead, you are provided a written report that aids you in correcting any discrepancies noted. Often, a quick trip to the local marina store is all that is necessary to obtain missing safety items and easily pass an inspection. Check out the Ships Store at Port Annapolis Marina—the personable, friendly staff will ensure that you find exactly what you need to complete your VSC certification process!

Boats that pass the examination are awarded a distinctive VSC decal that alerts the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol, and other law enforcement agencies that your boat was found to be in full compliance with all federal and state boating laws. Frequently, such agencies will not detain or board boats displaying a current-year decal that are otherwise operating safely.

Boat smart and have a VSC done sooner than later. You’ll be glad you did!

VSC FAQ’s:

What’s in it For Me?

Vessels passing safety checks are awarded a U.S. Coast Guard/Auxiliary Decal that informs Coast Guard/Auxiliary, Harbor Patrol, Sheriff’s & Police, and other boating law-enforcement and safety agencies that your boat was in full compliance with all Federal and State boating laws during a safety check for that year. Best of all, every Vessel Safety Check is 100% free of charge!

What if I Don’t Pass?

If your boat does not pass, no citation is issued at that time. Instead, you are provided a written report in how to correct any discrepancies.

Why Receive a Vessel Safety Check? 

Safety! The peace of mind that your boat meets federal safety standards and that in an emergency you will have the necessary equipment to save lives and summon help. In many cases, boating insurance agencies offer discounts for vessels which undergo a Vessel Safety Check every year. All decals and safety checks are void on December 31st of the year they are inspected, they are also void should the owner or operator fail to maintain the vessel’s equipment, or the vessel itself, to the standard at the time of the safety check.

How Do I Find an Examiner

Are you ready to get started on your path to safer boating? CLICK HERE, then fill out the short request form and click the submit button. The site will locate the closest volunteer vessel examiners within 30 miles of your location and request that they contact you and set up a Vessel Safety Check for your boat.

What Type of Items Are Checked?

  • Lifejackets
  • Registration and numbering
  • Navigation lights
  • Ventilation
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Distress signals (flares, horn, etc.)
  • Battery cover and connections

These items are currently required by Maryland State and Federal Laws and, if missing or non-operating, can result in a citation if your vessel is inspected by the Coast Guard.

If you have any questions, our friendly staff is happy to assist! We’ll be hosting U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Checks at Port Annapolis Marina on Friday, June 9th from 12:00 – 5:00 PM. To schedule your 2017 check, email Ron Ricketts at ron.ricketts1@gmail.com.

Sail Into Spring

2016-03-20 Spring Pic

Last month you cleaned things up and now that spring has sprung, you’re ready to set sail! Before leaving port, don’t let an ill-prepped vessel put a chill on your warm-weather plans! We know you’ve been itching to get back on the water all winter long, but those long, dreary months spent ashore can take a toll on your boat’s sea-worthiness. Follow the checklist below to avoid “springing” a leak and get your 2016 boating season off to a safe and enjoyable start.

FUEL SYSTEM:

  • Check for any obvious leaks or physical damage, paying specific attention to fuel hose connections and tank surfaces.
  • If fuel hoses appear soft, brittle, or have visible cracks, replace the affected parts and make sure clamps are secured

BELTS, CABLES & HOSES:

  • These components have a tendency to decay during winter storage; make sure belts are tightly fitted around corresponding pulleys to prevent slippage
  • Check the outer jacket of the throttle; cracks or swells in this area may indicate internal corrosion of the shift and control cables

ELECTRIC SYSTEM:

  • Make sure all electrical connections are free of visible corrosion; remove any corroded terminals and clean them thoroughly with a wire brush before replacing
  • Charge and test your battery
  • Consider getting your electrical system inspected by a qualified technician

FLUID LEVELS:

  • Ensure that oil, power steering, trim reservoirs and engine coolant levels are topped off
  • Change the engine oil and filter along with the drive lubricants

PROPELLERS & HULLS:

  • Look over propellers to make sure they’re free of excessive dents, pitting, or cracks that could cause vibration and damage the drive chain
  • Check hull for blistering, splinters, holes and cracks and ensure the drain plug is secure prior to launch

SAFETY GEAR:

  • Ensure life jackets are not damaged or frayed and there are an adequate number of appropriate-sized vests for all passengers on board
  • Check onboard fire extinguishers
  • Verify all enclosed areas have operable carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries in these devices if necessary

It’s Good to be Green

Port Annapolis Marina, Annapolis MD

Port Annapolis Marina is one of the northeastern United States’ premier sailing attractions, offering quick and convenient access to the Chesapeake Bay and its many adjoining historic properties. The marina’s friendly accommodations in this regard are only enhanced further by the many amenities available on site. These include a large swimming pool, as well as the Overlook Pavilion, which is suitable for a wide range of events (including weddings, reunions, and corporate meetings). Port Annapolis also offers putt-putt golf, and features the on-site Cafe Windward and Ships Store. Port Annapolis Marina is thick with local color, but it looks positively stunning in green. It is one of the most environmentally friendly marinas in the eastern United States, a fact that continues to draw new tenants and pool members to its pristine and lovely environment each year.

How Port Annapolis Marina is Environmentally Friendly

Some of the marina’s environmentally friendly aspects will seem obvious, though no less profound, upon reflection. Others might catch you a little bit by surprise. The marina is proud of the innovative way in which it is acting, in partnership with other organizations and the community at large, to preserve the overall health and quality of the environment that is so deeply cherished by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

  • Wind, Surf, and Sail: Port Annapolis Marina offers a safe harbor for sailboats of every kind. A boat ride powered by a steady wind – with the occasional support of some manual labor – can take you from one end of the Chesapeake to the other. Or, you can spend a leisurely afternoon cruising, with no particular rush to reach your destination. You’re avoiding the use of fossil fuels, and enjoying the quiet tranquility of the open water – without the use of a noisy motor.
  • Oyster Restoration: The marina has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Restoration Project. A keystone species within the bay, oysters are a critical part of the food chain and a major contributor to the bay’s overall purity and economic viability. Their reefs offer many other species of marine life a home, and the oysters themselves help to filter sand and sediment from the water – improving its cleanliness and clarity. Port Annapolis Marina has partnered with the CBF in boosting public awareness of its multiple programs, such as the Oyster Gardening Program, which are designed to boost community awareness as to the importance of oyster conservation.
  • Vegetated Buffer Zones: In many marinas across the developed world, storm-related runoff is a major source of pollution for the water. Port Annapolis Marina has helped to reduce this problem through the planting of strategically located vegetated buffer zones. These zones are maintained with permanent, year-round vegetation. They help to trap runoff from storms and unexpectedly high precipitation. This keeps sediment, pesticides, and nutrients that are beneficial to ground-dwelling fauna (but not so much to aquatic species) from entering the water.
  • Product-Related Concerns: Port Annapolis Marina works tirelessly to educate its employees in the promotion of environmentally Shrink Wrap Recyclefriendly products. Signage and documentation available at the marina offer suggestions and advice on environmentally friendly products to use during your visit. Receptacles for trash and recyclables are widely available, and are fastidiously maintained. Only dust-free sanders are allowed for work on boats, and substances such as motor oil, antifreeze, shrink wraps, and heavy metals are recycled religiously. During the wintertime, they actually heat the service shop using 100% recycled oil. In fact, some of Port Annapolis’ still-innovative recycling programs are more than fifteen years old!
  • Community Awareness: More recently, the marina has partnered with Annapolis Green to further educate the public about how to enjoy their facilities in a more environmentally friendly way. This kind of partnership has led to events such as “Do Good Have Fun,” which took place in July of 2014. Port Annapolis Marina partnered with Bud Light, Keep America Beautiful, and Annapolis Green for the event, which involved the cleanup of the Ellen O. Moyer Back Creek Nature Park next door to Port Annapolis, and a free lunch, courtesy of The Main Ingredient! The cleanup went well, and more community events are in the works for the future.
  • Dual Pump Out Carts: Nobody wants to think about this, but here’s the deal: if you own a boat with a holding tank, at some point you’re Pump Out Cartgoing to have to empty it out. Port Annapolis Marina maintains two pump out carts for maximum efficiency, as well as offering instructions and training in how to use them properly – so as to minimize your chances of creating a very unpleasant mess. Pump out carts are an environmentally friendly solution to the handling of human waste in an aquatic environment; they convey it safely and securely to the land-based sewage treatment system. The carts are free to use, for tenant convenience.

Port Annapolis has been recognized by the Department of Natural Resources as a Certified Clean Marina. For more information about Port Annapolis Marina, including its many environmentally friendly initiatives and community partnerships, call (410) 269-1990 today. Or, fill out the convenient contact form on the website, and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Should you feel like dropping by, directions are available through the website as well.