To learn about equipment required aboard recreational vessels on New York State waters, please select one of the topics below.
| Personal Flotation Devices | Fire Extinguisher | Visual Distress Signals | Lights |
| Anchor | Sound Signals | Other Recommended Equipment |
Every pleasure vessel operated upon the waters of New York must carry at least one USCG approved Type I or II or III Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or Life Jacket as they are more commonly known, for each person on board. All PFDs on board your vessel must be:
free of rot, tears, punctures, waterlogging and all straps functional.
- readily accessible
quickly reachable in an emergency situation, never kept in plastic bags or under lock and key.
- appropriate size for the intended wearer
check the USCG approval label for information on the intended user for a particular PFD.
CHECKING YOUR PFD
Most of us don't have enough natural buoyancy to keep afloat; a PFD is designed to make up the difference. You should periodically test your PFD in shallow water to see if it has sufficient buoyancy to keep you afloat. Many Type I and II PFDs consist of several kapok bags sewn into the device. Each bag must be airtight, otherwise water may seep into the bag causing the kapok to lose some or all of its buoyancy. You can test for leaks by squeezing the bags and listening for escaping air.
You should also check the straps and buckles of your PFD; a PFD will not work properly unless you are properly strapped into it. You should also check your PFD shell for tears in the fabric. Buoyant material may fall out of a tear. Leaving a PFD in with direct exposure to the sun may cause the shell fabric to severely weaken, and tear when worn.
If you are using a fully inflatable PFD, you should check the cylinder and lanyard before each use. You should also review the manufacturer's instructions for establishing a maintenance schedule.
Exposure to oil or grease may cause deterioration as well; always store your PFDs in a dry, well ventilated place.
CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF TWELVE (12)
Children under the age of twelve must wear a Type I, II or III PFD on board a vessel unless they are in a fully enclosed cabin.
OFF-SHORE LIFE JACKET (TYPE I PFD)
Effective for all waters, this type of lifejacket provides the most buoyancy. They are designed to turn most unconscious wearers in the water to a face-up position. There are two sizes: adult, with 22 lbs of buoyancy; and the children's size with 11 lbs of buoyancy.
NEAR-SHORE BUOYANT VEST (TYPE II PFD)The near-shore buoyant vest is intended for calm, inland water, where there is a good chance of a quick rescue. This type of lifejacket will turn some wearers over, but not reliably. The adult vest provides 15.5 lbs of buoyancy, and the child's vest 7 lbs.
FLOTATION AID (TYPE III PFD)Good for calm, inland water, where there is a good chance for immediate rescue. These are designed for special recreational activities such as water skiing. The Type III provides the same buoyancy as the Type II, but without any turning ability. They come in many colors and styles, and in general, are the most comfortable type of lifejackets available.
THROWABLE DEVICES (TYPE IV PFD)These PFDs are designed to be thrown to a person in the water, and grasped and held until rescued. These devices are not intended to be worn. At least 1 Type IV PFD must be carried on all vessels 16' or greater in length.
TYPE V: SPECIAL USE DEVICESSpecial Use: Designed and approved for restricted uses or specific activities such as windsurfing or commercial whitewater rafting. This type of PFD is only acceptable when used for the activity for which it is designed. The label on the Type V PFD indicates the approved activity, restrictions or limitations, and equivalent performance type (whether its flotation is equivalent to a Type (I, II, OR III). If a Type V PFD is approved and identified for commercial use only, it does not satisfy requirements for recreational watercraft, unless otherwise specified. Special use Type V PFDs range in buoyancy from 15.5 to 22 pounds.
Hybrid Device: The hybrid Type V PFD uses inflation in addition to the type of buoyant flotation material found in traditional PFDS. To be acceptable for use on recreational craft, the hybrid Type V PFD must be worn, except when the boat is not under way, or when the boater is in an enclosed space, such as a boat cabin. It provides a minimum of 7.5 pounds of buoyancy when deflated, and 22 pounds when inflated. When fully inflated, a hybrid's flotation performance is equivalent to that of a Type I, II, or III (the performance type will be marked on the label). A hybrid PFD is more comfortable than some other types of PFD because it is less bulky when deflated. Testing the hybrid in the water before use is recommended to determine whether the buoyancy inherent in the device when inflated provides sufficient flotation. For hybrids using CO 2 cartridges for inflation, the cartridges must be inspected periodically to ensure that they have not been spent. The user must accept the responsibility for the care of the device.
INFLATABLE PFDsWhile the United States Coast Guard is now approving inflatable PFDs for use on recreational vessels, please keep in mind that while they are comfortable and lightweight, they are not suitable for non-swimmers, waterskiers, youths under the age of 12 and riders of personal watercraft.
REQUIREMENTS FOR MECHANICALLY PROPELLED VESSELS:
- Outboards Less Than 26' and of Open Construction - Exempt
- Less Than 26' - One (1) USCG Approved Type B-1 Extinguisher
- 26' to 40' - Two (2) USCG Approved Type B-1 Extinguishers
- 40' to 65' - Three (3) USCG Approved Type B-1 Extinguishers
- On any vessel, a type B-II extinguisher may be substituted for two type B-1 extinguishers.
- Vessels equipped with approved fixed extinguishing systems may carry one less B-1 extinguisher.
TYPES OF EXTINGUISHERS The two most common types are Dry Chemical and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers. Dry chemical is generally used on fires caused by flammable liquids such as fuel or grease (Class B fires) or electrical fires (Class C). CO2 extinguishers are effective against combustible solids (Class A) such as paper or wood as well as Class B or C fires.
Check your extinguishers frequently to ensure they are fully charged and undamaged. Check the pressure gauge or weigh it to determine the charge, and replace cracked or broken hoses. Also ensure that the hoses are clear of obstructions.
State law requires all mechanically propelled vessels 18 feet in length or greater to carry a distress flag, fluorescent orange in color and at least one foot square. In addition, these vessels must also carry three hand held red flares. The flares must be US Coast Guard approved. New flares generally have a three year service life, and the ones you carry must not be past their expiration date. Never use road flares on your boat; they produce hot slag which can drip and burn either you or your vessel.
There is some discrepancy between state and federal regulations for the carriage of visual distress signals (VDS). If you operate on the high seas, coastal waters or Great Lakes, the Coast Guard requires all vessels to carry visual distress signals. However, powerboats less than 16 feet, sailboats less than 26 feet, and all manually propelled vessels need only carry VDS when operating at night. Since the state has some jurisdiction in these areas, it is recommended that all vessels sixteen feet or greater in length carry at least three USCG approved hand held day/night flares at all times.
Vessels must display their required navigation lights at all times between sunset and sunrise, and during daylight periods of reduced visibility. Sail vessels less than 23 feet as well as manually propelled vessels may carry, in lieu of fixed lighting, a lantern with a white light that can be displayed in time to prevent a collision.
Law enforcement vessels may carry a blue, flashing light. No other vessels are permitted to carry a blue light. If you see this light, reduce speed, yield, and if necessary, stop your vessel.
All vessels between 7 (23.9' ) and 50 (164.1' ) meters in length, when at anchor, must exhibit an all around white light. By day, a black ball shape shall be exhibited.
All mechanically propelled vessels must carry an anchor and line of sufficient weight and strength to provide the vessel with safe anchorage. Select an anchor for the types of waters in which you'll be operating. The anchor line should be between 4 and 7 times the depth of the water in which you would normally anchor.
All mechanically propelled vessels 26 feet and greater in length must carry a mechanical whistle or horn capable of producing a blast of two or more seconds in duration. On vessels less than 26 feet in length a mouth whistle may be used.
All vessels 26 feet and greater in length are required to have a bell. The purpose of the bell is to comply with the rules of the road when anchored or grounded in reduced visibility.
- Tool kit
- First Aid kit
- Spare lines
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