U.S. Coast Guard: What to Expect

The primary goal of the U.S. Coast Guard is to ensure the safety of everyone on the water. A Coast Guard inspection may seem intimidating, but just remember that they are the good guys and if you are respectful and properly prepared, your Coast Guard interaction should be as smooth as glass – just like the water on a day without wind.

Here are a few things you can expect if the Coast Guard chooses to board your vessel for inspection:

Most Coast Guard inspections are simple routine safety stops, during which they will just review your registration documentation and check to be sure that you have the required emergency equipment on board and that it is all in working order. So don’t get nervous. 

The process is simple. They may hail you on the radio to indicate their intention to board your vessel or they may approach your boat. The best course of action is to stay out of the way of traffic and stop your engine – much like you would on a roadway for a police officer.

Once the Coast Guard boards your vessel, they may ask you a few questions such as if you have any weapons on board. If so, you will be asked to provide the proper permits.

As long as you’re not doing anything wrong and you have all the proper safety gear on board and in working order, the entire process should be quick and painless – probably only lasting about 15 minutes or so.