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There are various federal regulations regarding usage and operation of recreational boats. They prescribe the type of equipment that is required on your boat, what navigation rules apply, what to do in an emergency situation, and provide you with safety and survival tips.
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The equipment you use on your boat must meet U.S. Coast Guard standards and specifications. Safety equipment must include life jackets, visual distress signals, fire extinguishers, backfire flame control, navigation lights, and marine sanitation devices, among other things.
When it comes to navigation rules, they are divided into two categories, inland and international. Inland navigation rules apply while you are operating your vessel inside the line of demarcation, while international rules apply for sailing outside that line. They are intended to increase safety and avoid boating accidents. They require you to post a lookout, maintain a safe speed and offer tips on how to avoid a collision.
Another aspect boating regulations cover is law enforcement. There are various actions that boat owners can penalized for, such as negligent operation, boating under the influence, failure to report an accident or meet equipment requirements.
Safety and survival tips refer to the operator's responsibilities, how to do a carbon monoxide checklist, what the risks of overloading are, how to anchor your vessel properly, what to do in severe weather.
Lastly, emergency notification/communication regulations require boat owners to use Satellite EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), which help you transmit distress signals containing your exact position to the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center. To learn about boat or pleasure craft registration, click here. For boating licenses go here.