What Am I Required to Have on My Boat in Maryland?

In Maryland, there are certain requirements that boat owners must adhere to in order to ensure safety on the water. It is important to familiarize yourself with these regulations and have the necessary equipment on your boat before heading out onto Maryland’s beautiful waterways.

Registration and Documentation

All motorized vessels in Maryland must be registered with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This includes powerboats, sailboats with motors, jet skis, and any other vessel propelled by machinery.

When you register your boat, you will receive a registration number and decal that must be displayed on the hull of your vessel. This helps identify your boat and ensures compliance with state regulations.

Life Jackets

One of the most important safety precautions you can take while boating is wearing a life jacket. In Maryland, it is required that all passengers have access to a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board.

The number of life jackets required depends on the type and size of your vessel. It is recommended to have additional life jackets available for guests or unexpected passengers.

Navigation Lights

When boating after sunset or during periods of limited visibility, it is essential to have navigation lights properly installed and functioning on your boat. These lights help other boaters determine your position and avoid collisions. At a minimum, vessels are required to have a red/green bow light, a white stern light, and an all-around white light for visibility.

Fire Extinguishers

All motorized boats equipped with an inboard engine or enclosed compartments where fuel or flammable materials are stored must have a US Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board. The specific requirements vary depending on the size of the vessel and its propulsion system. It is crucial to regularly inspect and maintain your fire extinguisher to ensure it is in proper working condition.

Sound-Producing Devices

Boats are required to have sound-producing devices, such as a whistle or horn, that can be heard from a reasonable distance. These devices are used to alert other boaters of your presence or to signal distress. It is important to familiarize yourself with the proper use of these devices and ensure they are easily accessible on your boat.

Visual Distress Signals

In certain situations, such as when boating on coastal waters or the Great Lakes, boats are required to carry visual distress signals. These signals include flares, flags, and smoke signals that can be used to indicate an emergency situation. Check the specific regulations for the waterways you plan to navigate to determine if visual distress signals are required.

Other Safety Equipment

In addition to the above requirements, it is recommended that you have additional safety equipment on board your boat. This may include a first aid kit, a throwable flotation device (such as a life ring), a bilge pump for removing water from the vessel, and anchor and line for securing your boat when necessary.

By ensuring you have all the necessary equipment on your boat, you not only comply with Maryland’s regulations but also prioritize the safety of yourself and your passengers. Remember to regularly inspect and maintain your safety equipment to ensure it is in good working order before each boating excursion.

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Daniel Bennet