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Initial VSC Training Program Purpose To qualify members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons as Vessel Examiners Chapter 1 one of three Definitions The VSC Program The Vessel Examiner The Vessel Safety Check

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Initial VSC Training Program


To qualify members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the

United States Power Squadrons as Vessel Examiners

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Chapter 1 one of three

  • Definitions

  • The VSC Program

  • The Vessel Examiner

  • The Vessel Safety Check

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Chapter 1 two of three

  • Vessels eligible for the VSC

  • Vessels NOT eligible for the VSC

  • Activities beyond the scope of the VSC

  • Relations with Law Enforcement officials

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Chapter 1 three of three

  • District supervision of the VSC Program

  • VSC performed outside your home District

  • Vessel Examiner qualifications

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Chapter 2 – Vessel Safety Check Techniques

  • This chapter addresses the techniques that the Vessel Examiner should be aware of and adhere to when performing a Vessel Safety Check

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Chapter Two one of two

  • The Vessel Examiner

  • Educational Materials

  • Exchange Boating Information

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Chapter Two two of two

  • Conducting the VSC

  • Awarding the VSC Decal

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Chapter 3 – The VSC Decal Requirements

  • This chapter focuses on what the Vessel Examiner and the boater need to understand to ensure the safety of the boat and its passengers.

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Letters and numbers must be:

  • At least 3” high.

  • Block-type letters.

  • Color contrast with hull color.

  • Space or hyphen between letters and numbers equal to the width of another letter except “I”.

  • Attached to forward half of the boat.

  • State decal is placed according to the requirements of the state of registration.

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Boat Numbers


Painted or Attached

to Each Side of Bow

Always Read Left to Right


Block not less than

3 inches high

FL 1234 AB


Must be of a Color

Contrasting to the



Hyphen or Equivalent Space

Between 3 Parts of Number

FL 1234 AB



FL 1234 AB

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Most Power Driven Vessels Must Be (see exceptions)

  • Registered or

  • Documented

  • Review the exceptions

  • Registration or Documentation paper must be onboard while underway and during the VSC

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The Legal Paperwork one of two

  • State Registration

  • Must be registered in the state of principal use.

  • Vessel numbers are obtained from the State

  • Vessel numbers remain with the vessel after it is sold.

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The Legal Paperwork two of two

  • Documented Vessel

  • 5 or more net tons.

  • Pleasure use only.

  • Owner must be US Citizen.

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Hull Identification Number

  • HIN

  • Usually on Starboard Side of Transom

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Hull Identification Number







  • Before July 31, 1984

  • Since August 1, 1984

A B C 4 5 6 7 8 M 7 3 E







A B C 4 5 6 7 8 A 4 9 2









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Personal Flotation Devices (Life Jackets) one of two

  • Must Be Coast Guard approved and suitable size for wearer

  • For boats Less than 16’

    • One wearable for each person

  • For boats 16’ and longer

    • One wearable for each person

    • PLUS one throwable on the boat

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Personal Flotation Devices (Life jackets) two of two

  • Wearable life jackets

    • Readily accessible

  • Throwable PFDs

    • Immediately available

  • All life jackets/PFDs

    • Good and serviceable condition

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Type I Offshore Jacket

  • 22 Pounds Flotation

  • Will turn most unconscious people face up

  • Acceptable on all recreational boats and commercial vessels

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Type II Near Shore Buoyant Vest

  • 15.5 Pounds Flotation

  • May turn most unconscious people face up

  • Acceptable on all recreational boats

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Type III Flotation Aid

  • 15.5 Pounds Flotation

  • Many special designs for water sports

  • Acceptable on all recreational boats

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Type IV Throwable

  • Designed to be thrown, NOT WORN.

  • Must have on aboard for boats 16 feet or longer.

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Type V

  • May provide the performance of Type I, II or III as marked on the label

  • The label may state “approved only when worn”, if so, it must be worn during the VSC.

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Fully inflatable PFD

  • Must be worn!

  • May perform as a type II or III when inflated

  • Manual and/or automatic inflatable

  • Demonstrate the method of checking this device

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Visual Distress Signal Required

Approved VDS for:

  • All vessels > 16 feet

  • Operating on the “high seas”, Great Lakes or Coastal & Inland waters of the US

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Visual Distress Signal Exemptions

  • Vessels participating in an organized parade or similar event

  • A manually propelled boat

  • Sailboat under 26 feet of open construction and no propulsion equipment (engine)

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Visual Distress Signals

  • Day - Night

  • Pyrotechnic - Non-Pyrotechnic

  • Coastal Waters - Great Lakes –Inland Waters

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Pyrotechnic Visual Distress Signals

  • Day

    • Smoke

  • Night

    • Hand Held Flares

    • Aerial Flares

      • Keep Dry - Short burn time

      • Use only when they might be seen

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Visual Distress Signals (VDS)

  • Daytime Pyrotechnic Devices

  • Orange Smoke

  • Hand Held Flares

  • Aerial Flares

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Visual Distress Signals (VDS)

  • Nighttime Non-Pyrotechnic Devices

  • Flash Light (SOS)

    ( hand held flood or

    spot lights are acceptable)

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Visual Distress Signals (VDS)

  • Nighttime Pyrotechnic Devices

  • Hand Held Flare

  • Aerial Flare

  • Controlled fire on Boat

    (Not Recommended)

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Fire Extinguishers

  • Boats required to carry

    *Review list from manual

  • Should be checked monthly to insure they are operational

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Types of Fires

  • A - Wood, Paper, Cloth

  • B - Oil, Grease, Gasoline

  • C - Electrical

  • D - Burning Metal

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Fire Extinguishers

  • Must be Coast Guard approved

  • Coast Guard classification

    • B-I, B-II

    • Indicates weight of agent

    • Type of fire

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Types of Fire Extinguishers

  • Carbon Dioxide

  • Dry Chemicals

  • Halon

    *Halon replacementsuch as FE 241 is now


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Class B Fire Extinguishers

Coast Guard
























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Minimum Number of Hand Portable

Fire Extinguishers With and Without

Fixed Extinguishing Systems

Fixed fire


system in

machinery space

No fixed

system in

machinery space

Length of Vessel

1 B-I


Less than 26 feet

2 B-I or 1 B-II

1 B-I

26 ft. to under 40 ft.

3 B-I or

1 B-I and 1 B-II

2 B-I or 1 B-II

40 ft. to 65 ft.

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Using a Fire Extinguisher

  • Pull the safety pin.

  • Aim the discharge of the

    at the base of the flames.

  • Squeeze the Handle

  • Sweep the discharge of the

    extinguisher from side to side

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Ventilation System

General Precautions:

Use your Nose

If you smell gasoline,


Find the source of the leak

and fix it!

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Ventilation is not required in

open boats.

(Engine and Fuel tank are

out in the open.)

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Ventilation Systems

Powered Ventilation Systems

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Ventilation Systems

Powered Ventilation Systems

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Warning Label


Gas vapors can explode

Before starting engine, operate blower for four minutes and check engine compartment and bilge for gas vapors

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Sound Producing Devices

  • Electric Horn

  • Airhorn

  • Coach’s Whistle

  • Whistle

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Sound Producing Devices

Audibility Range Required:

Less than 65 feet long ----- 0.5 mile

Longer than 65 feet ----- 1 mile

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Added Requirements over 65 ft


[May apply to shorter vessels by State requirements]

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Definitions Flotation Device.

  • Sidelight

  • Sternlight

  • Towing light

  • All-Around light

  • Flashing light

  • Special flashing light

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Arc of visibility Flotation Device.

  • Port – red 112.5o

  • Starboard – green 112.5o

  • Stern – white 135o

  • Masthead – white 225o

  • Anchor –white 360o

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Vessels under 65 feet Flotation Device.

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Vessels under 39.4 feet may: Flotation Device.

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Sail <23 feet and Vessel Flotation Device. under oars may:

Carry a flashlight or lantern showing a white light that could be displayed in time to prevent a collision

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Additional Requirements Flotation Device.

  • Anchor lights

    • Exclusions

  • Sailboat when under power is a power boat

  • Day Shapes

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The Federal Water Flotation Device. Pollution Control Act

  • Prohibits the discharge of oil or hazardous substances into U.S. navigable waters.

  • Vessels longer than 26 feet must display a placard

    • 5 x 8 durable material

    • In a conspicuous place near bilge pump station and machinery space

  • See page 25 for details

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MARPOL Placards Flotation Device.

  • The Act to Prevent Pollution from ships (MARPOL ANNEX V) places limitations on the discharge of garbage from vessels.

  • Vessels of 26 feet or longer must display, in a prominent location, a durable, placard at least 4 x 9 inches notifying the crew and passengers of the discharge restrictions

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MARPOL Exceptions Flotation Device.

  • Recreational vessels used exclusively in the Great Lakes may use the Annex V placards or a specially developed placard that prohibits the dumping of garbage.

  • The trash placard is NOT required on inland lakes and sole state waters unless specified by State or Local regulations.

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Trash Plan Requirement Flotation Device.

  • Boats 40 ft or longer and equipped with a galley and berthing must have a writtenTrash Management Plan

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MSD Requirements Flotation Device.

  • All recreational vessels with installed toilet facilities MUST have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board. Direct discharge toilets are illegal.

    • Vessels < 65 feet may install type I, II or III MSD

    • Vessels 65 feet or longer must install a type II or III MSD

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Types of MSD Flotation Device.

Type I and Type II devices are waste treatment units and have the ability to discharge overboard.

Type III devices re-circulate waste. They are discharged at a pump out station in a legal dumping area.

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No-Discharge Area Flotation Device.

A Type I or II MSD must be adequately secured while the vessel is in a no-discharge area to prevent any overboard discharge of treated or untreated sewage.

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Carriage of Inland Flotation Device. Navigation Rules

  • The owner or operator of each self-propelled vessel 39.4 feet or longer shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a complete and current copy of the Navigation Rules.  

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State and Local Requirements Flotation Device.

  • The requirements of the state and local law enforcement jurisdictions where the VSC is conducted will be included in the VSC criteria.

  • While states may require liability insurance, license restrictions, or specific activity equipment, only equipment directly related to vessel safety or items on the VSC checklist will be considered.

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Overall Vessel Condition Flotation Device.

  • The vessel must have a safe overall condition in order to meet the finalrequirement for the VSC decal.

  • Following are some applicable items critical to the safety of the vessel and must be acceptable before the VE awards the VSC decal.

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Overall Vessel Condition Flotation Device.

  • Deck free of hazards

  • Clean Bilge

  • Electrical Systems

  • Fuel Systems

  • Galley

  • Heating System

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Electrical and Fuel Systems Flotation Device.

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Galley and Heating Systems Flotation Device.

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Chapter 4 – Recommended & Discussion Items Flotation Device.

  • This chapter provides information on items not required by Federal Regulations but strongly recommended for the safety of recreational boaters.

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Marine Radio Flotation Device.

  • Distress Calls

    • MAYDAY

    • PAN-PAN


  • Radio Licenses

  • Radio Listening Watch

  • False Distress Signals

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Dewatering Devices and Backup Flotation Device.

  • At least one effective dewatering device

  • Also one manual device such as a pail or hand pump

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Mounted Fire Extinguishers Flotation Device.

  • While it is NOT required to mount fire extinguishers, it is recommended that they be mounted in a readily visible and consistent location known to all aboard.

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Should Have An Anchor Flotation Device.

And Line Suitable For

Boat And Boating Area.

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First Aid Kits Flotation Device.

  • Boaters are encouraged to carry additional safety equipment including a First Aid Kit. These can be purchased in various sizes, depending on the type of boating a person does (small lakes versus offshore cruising).

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Person in Water Kits Flotation Device.

  • A line attached to the PFD or ring thrown to a PIW will provide a means for pulling the Person in the Water back to the vessel.

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VDS Onboard for some Inland Use Flotation Device.

  • Although not required for some localities, it is always a good idea to have a way to signal for HELP.

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Capacity Plate Information Flotation Device.

  • Outboards

    • U.S. Coast Guard Capacity Information

      • Maximum Horse Power

      • Maximum Persons Capacity

      • Maximum Weight Capacity

        • Persons Motor & Gear

  • Inboards

    • U.S. Coast Guard Capacity Information

      • Maximum Persons Capacity

      • Maximum Weight Capacity

        • Persons Motor & Gear

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Capacity Plate for Outboards Flotation Device.






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Capacity Plate for Inboards Flotation Device.





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Compliance Plate Flotation Device.






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Discussion Items Flotation Device. one of two

a. Accident reporting / Owner responsibility

b. Offshore Operation

c. Nautical Charts / Navigation Aids

d. Survival Tips / First Aid

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Discussion Items Flotation Device. two of two

e. Fueling / Fuel Mgt.

f. Float Plan / Weather & Sea Conditions

g. Insurance Considerations

h. Boating Check List

i. Safe Boating Classes

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Warning Systems Flotation Device.

  • Fire Detectors

  • Smoke Detectors

  • Fire Ports

  • Combustible Fumes Detectors

  • Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Fire Extinguisher Alarms

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Emergency Gear Bag Flotation Device.

Emergency Gear Bag

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Chapter 5 – Flotation Device. Forms and Materials

  • This chapter provides information on resources and forms applicable to the Vessel Safety Check Program.

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Chapter 5 Flotation Device.

  • Federal Requirements Pamphlet

  • Coast Guard Infoline

  • State Requirements

  • VSC Form 7012

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Useful WEB Sites Flotation Device.

  • United States Power Squadrons National Page -

  • CG Auxiliary National Page -

  • V Department Page –

  • VSC National Public Page -

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Thank you for your attention Flotation Device. and enjoy the VSC program