Boating Safety Equipment

Every boat in Washington State is required to have certain safety equipment aboard. For boats in our size category, this is the equipment we need on board.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

We require that everyone aboard wear a Personal Flotation Device (life preserver to landlubbers) at all times above deck. If the person is in the cabin, we require that they keep one handy, but not necessarily on, unless the person is 12 years old or younger, in which case they need to keep it on at all times. Washington State's law is actually less strict than this, and merely requires that everyone have a PFD at hand.

All of our life vests are Type II Near-Shore Life Jackets. We have two that use CO2 canisters that inflate upon immersion in water. These are more comfortable than other types. We will be acquiring two more of these by next season so that all crew members will have them.

We also have a Type IV horseshoe throwable PFD on a bracket on the port side railing. We have a 100' of light floating line attached to it.

Visual Distress Signals

Washington State WAC 352-60-040 follows the US Coast Guard regulations. They require that you have a Visual Distress Signal available for daylight and another for night time. For daylight, you can have an approved Distress Signal for Boats Orange Flag or various kinds of flares. For night time, you can have an approved Electric Distress Light for Boats, or various kinds of flares. Some flares can act as both daytime and nighttime Visual Distress Signals.

ACR DistresSOS 1842 Electric Distress Light

Here is the drawback to flares: They are expensive and they have to be replaced every 42 months. To meet the minimum requirements, you can get by with just a Distress Sign for Boats Orange Flag and the Electric Distress Light for Boats. However, oddly as it seems, nobody seems to be making a Coast Guard approved Electric Distress Light for Boats any more. This seems like a business opportunity for someone! ACR Electronics made the Coast Guard approved DistresSOS (product 1842), but it is no longer being made. Other lights do not have the Coast Guard approval, so will not meet the state requirement. I bought one of the ACR lights on Ebay used for about $30 plus shipping.

The flag is orange and has a square and a circle in black.

Flares come in various forms. If you get them to act as both day and night Visual Distress Signals, there are a couple of types that will qualify. You will need three in total, although you can mix and match what kinds you have on board.

Hand-Held Red Flare Signals (160.021)
Parachute Red Flare Signals (160.024)
Hand-Held Rocket Propelled Parachute Red Flare Signals (160.036)
Red Aerial Pyrotechnic Flares (160.066)

The critical label that makes this the only approved Electric Distress Signal

Although flares came with our boat, they expired in the early 1990s, so are not legal. The Coast Guard regulations require they be replaced within 42 months from the date of manufacture. We will replace all of our flares by next season, but with the light and the flag on board, we do not necessarily need to replace them at the Coast Guard's replacement rate.

Fire Extinguisher

We have a Type B fire extinguisher on board. This is required by Washington State law.

Air Horn

We have a hand operated air horn. This must be loud enough to be heard for half a mile.