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Safe Dinghy Checklist

Dinghy Safety Checklist

It only takes a few minutes to verify that your dinghy is "good to go."

USCG Federal Requirements - IMPORTANT NOTE: States may have additional requirements for registration of all types of boats and young passengers, including young operators of propelled dinghies

  • USCG Approved lifejacket for each person on board.  Required to be worn by children under 13.
  • FLASHLIGHT in boat under oars – exhibited in time to prevent collision
  • STATE NUMBERS on hull if propelled by machinery
  • STATE REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE must be on board when dinghy is in use
  • WHITE, ALL AROUND LIGHT if propelled by machinery at night or in restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze)
  • SIDE LIGHTS if underway at night or in restricted visibility and max speed is over 7 knots
  • EFFICIENT SOUND SIGNAL - e.g. LOUD WHISTLE - for use in restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc,)
  • VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNALS (if propelled by machinery) – Distress light or 3 day/night red flares, only if operating at night. Daytime signals are not required in protected bays & rivers.

Optional, Recommended Safety Items that vary according to the situation and planned use of the dinghy.

(What do you need for this trip, in this place, at this time?)

  • INFLATABLE PFDs with light and whistle - Mom & Pop to don prior to boarding and take off after debarking
  • TWO OARS with working oarlocks – backup for engine problems
  • OBEY MAX WEIGHT/NUMBER OF PERSONS - see ‘Capacity Plate’, dinghy manual or USCG matrix
  • USCG Type IV THROWABLE DEVICE – Throw cushion
  • BOW LINE (Painter) & FLOATING STERN LINE and fenders, as necessary
  • BAILER/BILGE PUMP and sponge
  • ENGINE  (Be sure there is sufficient fuel plus some for your planned trip)
    • Spares: Spark Plugs, Oil, Cotter Pins, Shear Pins, Tools
    • Reflective Tape on Engine
    • Safety line to dinghy
    • Engine kill switch (Dead man’s key) and line
  • ANCHOR & RODE – 75-100 ft (pack rode in bag like a throw rope/heaving line)
  • FLASHLIGHT (does not meet ‘all around’ light requirement)
  • HANDHELD VHF RADIO, (with DSC, if possible) – especially in remote waters
  • COMPASS or PORTABLE GPS - for use in restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.)
  • AIS MOB locating device – if in area where other boats will have AIS operating
  • PLB- desirable in remote areas (satellite gives location only to Rescue Forces)
  • SPARE FUEL – with stabilizer, stowed only in approved containers in areas where any leaks go over the side
  • CHART of local area – small boat chart of any unfamiliar area in a zip loc bag
  • FOUL WEATHER GEAR for passing rain showers – (large trash bags with head hole work well)
  • MOB MACHO STRAP – a 3 ft loop made from 2 inch webbing will act as a sling to help recover MOB
  • TENT PEG – holds painter when beaching a dinghy

Security Considerations

  • STRONG CABLE or CHAIN & LOCK(s) to lock dinghy to a dock and to the yacht at night

  • REMOVE ENGINE KILL SWITCH/DEADMAN’S KEY from engine when leaving dinghy unattended

  • NO YACHT NAME ON DINGHY so thieves don’t know which boat is vacant
  • CELL PHONE NUMBER ON SEAT, FLOOR BOARDS OR TRANSOM to facilitate return if/when found
  • CABLE & LOCK to lock valuables and spares left in the dinghy

CCA Contact: Ron Trossbach, email