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USCG Boat Inspection

13254 Views 23 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Icet
Anyone have any information on what to expect when getting a USCG inspection? I recently got my Captain's license and before I can charter I have to have this done. I know the basics, i.e: pfd's, throw rings and all of the required equipment. I am wondering how extensive the hull, electronics, fuel system check is.

Thanks for any help.
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I thought there was a form or something on the USCG website - Cleveland - that had the costs spelled out on it...
Hey Dan, I am wondering how EXTENSIVE, not expensive the inspection is. I just want to handle every possible potential headache before it becomes one.
By the way Dan, it was good to finally meet you in Lansing at the Combat Fishing booth. Sorry I had to run after my seminar, I was beat and had a long drive back to Dayton. I will have a lighter schedule soon, I hope.
The inspection (Vessel Safety Check or VSC) is free of charge (unless there is a different one for your purposes).

It checks the vessl's equipment for compliance with federal, state and local safety requirments. Some of what they check for are:

Proper displayof numbers (remember Fedaral placement and State Placement of year registratin sticker differ)
Registration/Documentation (should be onboard at all times)
Personal Flotation Devices (check numbers of, sizes and overall condition)
Visual Distress Signals (check your exp. dates and proper number of day/night devices)
Fire Extinguishers (proper number for vessel size and fully charged, mounted, accessable)
Ventilation (blowers work and demonstrated)
Backfire Flame Control (make sure the flame arrestors are clean and oily free and securely fixed to...)
Sound Producing Devices (horn, bell)
State and Local requirement
Overall Vessel Condition.

The inspector will also talk to you about:

Accident Reporting
Charts and Aids
Survival Tips
Fueling.Fuel Management
Float Plan
Weather and Sea Conditions
Safety Boating Classes

Hope this helps
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If you are wanting to charter, which I assume you are due to your obtaining a captain's license, it is not free. You need an inspection from the Michigan DNR and for a new boat inspection it is $250. It is a real hassle. You meet a conservation officer at either Bolles Harbor or Harley Ensign and he/she will do the inspection. You have to call the DNR office in your district and request a 'charter boat inspection package' and when they receive your application and $250 then you will be allowed to book your inspection.
See what happens. (We didn't get much time to talk, did we?) Gets near boating season time and all I can think about is where am I going to get all my fishing money from. It's make you watch the gas prices closer than the stock markets.

I had all the stuff at home for becoming a Great Lakes guide, but I wasn't pursuing it for now. I had thought I saw a fee and it was stuck in my mind too.

We had an undercover CO a couple years ago 'sting' a few guys in the bass boat guiding business, so I was also trying to clarify a few things for my general knowledge and to see why the local guy appeared to be saying things different than the Lansing law leadership. There are some things in the state charterboat regs that don't apply very well to bass boats (like the handrail). Lansing leadership told me they were going by the industry now for non-tuna boat guides since all boat manufacturers must meet national safety standards to sell their product.

You have a newer boat. Have all the safety equipment that's covered for the state and Coast Guard in good working order. I seem to remember you have to have labels where certain safety stuff is stored for the Coast Guard, but I'm not sure that is required or suggested. Maybe someone else knows off the top of their head. I imagine the inspection isn't too much of a deal if you have everything, know where it's all at and it's all in order. Good luck.

PS: Do you have a VHF and did you get an FCC license?
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Labels for compartments that store safety equipment and an EPIRB (Emergency Personal Indicator Radio Beacon) I think are also required.

EPIRBs aren't cheap. Man, by the time you're done getting all the stuff and paying all fees, you need the first 10 guide trips just to pull back even...
It's not an epirb that you need. It's a 'waterlight'. You also need things like 'offshore' lifevests, a fuel line shut off valve, a drift sock, a ring bouy with 50' of 1/2" rope, a 27lb anchor with 200' of rope, an 'emergency procedures' list posted, captains license posted, mounted compass, flashlight with D cells, commercial insurance, 2 bilge pumps, bucket as a bailer, 2 mounted fire extinguishers, rubber boots on battery terminals, flares, etc.
You must also submit monthly catch reports and enroll in a random drug testing program.
Yep, I put alot of thought into doing this before I committed to it. I'm thinking if I break even on my initial costs within the first two seasons I am doing well. I had to really look at this long term to see how it could be beneficial. I have just about everything handled, with exception to the FCC license and the inspection.

I run a 21' center console instead of a bass boat. It is already set up with all of the USCG required equipment.
Half of the problem is finding space to put this stuff!

I took the 100 gross ton masters course instead of the 6-pack so I could even run tugs, transport, ferry, etc. It may come in handy someday. As of right now, I just want to put people on muskies and smallmouth....strictly catch and release of course.

Thanks for the feedback guys...I appreciate it.
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I figured a while back that you already knew what you were getting into. I actually like taking people fishing that way once in a while.

I saw the thing about the monthly fish reports. I'll be curious to hear how the MDNR treats that for non-bigwater salmon/trout 'charters.'

I don't remember reading anything about the random drug tests, but I did not read the entire charter regs. I was just doing some looking at the definitions in the act because of another issue, so I might have missed that part.

Do you have a website yet? It can be helpful for guides. You can post pictures of all the 'big' ones your clients catch. Good luck.
I do have a web site, check out I don't have all of the pic's up yet, but most of the ones I have stored digitally are on there. I will be putting the musky pics up soon too. It has been very time consuming so far, but I think it will pay off.

I only have six trips booked for this year. I hope to end up with ten or twelve by the end of the year.

I plan to work the Ohio, Indiana and Michigan show circuits this fall, hopefully it will lead to more trips!
Are you currently licensed by the USCG and MDNR? The violation has happened already of you arent. Simple advertising, I beleive, without certification (including boat inspection) is in violation of the law. Your "preliminary" website looks good. I think I have seen that boat before..........

Good luck in your ventures.
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Mini is correct. You cannot even advertise unless your boat has been inspected. Ask the few guys who got $600 fines a few years ago.
I put the website up for you guys to see. It won't be permanently up until the inspection is completed, which probably will be a few weeks. There is much more work to be done on it too, I had no idea how many hours go into setting a sight up. Thank god I have energetic, supportive friends.
Does anybody know this one: What is the legal difference between a "Guide" and a Charter Boat Captain". I think lots as I see guys, just saying "Guide" serve. I have no idea and I would like to know - is there a different set of rules for each.
In the Coast Guard and DNR's eye's, it is more like 'vessel with passengers for hire'. So to answer....there is no difference.
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