First, you will be impressed by their youthfulness and their polite, professional demeanor. These are highly trained federal officers. And the very first question that they will ask you, before they even step off their vessel onto yours, is, “Without reaching for them or touching the tone is set: “I am polite. I am professional. I mean business.”   Let’s assume (and hope) that the answer to that question is “no,” since I would need a lot more space than this column if the answer is “yes.”

What Happens Next?

The inspection that follows is driven largely by the size of the vessel,with a few standard exceptions.Your actual registration needs to be aboard and current. The “HIN”number, like your car’s “VIN” number, needs to be the same on your registration and on your boat (low on the starboard side of the transom.)If they don’t match, someone has a lot of explaining to do. The registration numbers must be of proper size (at least 3”), of contrasting color to your hull and be the most forward of any numbering or lettering on the boat. If you have an“MSD” (Marine Sanitation Device, aka a “head” or toilet), regardless of the size of your vessel, it must conform to regulations. All the baysand creeks in the Northeast are “NoDischarge Zones,” so if there is an overboard through-hull from the MSD holding tank, it must be in the locked/closed position and the key must be under the control of the skipper. It can be seized closed or, lastly, the handle can be removed and it must be in the closed position.The rest is largely going to be driven by the size of your vessel:How many personal flotation devices(life jackets)? – at least one for everybody aboard, in good working order and readily availableFire Extinguishers – boat size dependent,but all must be in working order Flares – all must be “good to go,” i.e.unexpired  And so on and so forth…

What Happens Then?

Well, there are three out comes from here. First and best, you will get a Report of Boarding and it is marked, “No violations.” You are good to go. Secondly, your Report of Boarding could be marked“Written Warning” about some violation that has not risen to the level of Notice of Violation. One caveat:If the boarding officer returns to the station and finds that you already have been given a warning for the same issue, your notice becomes a Violation. That is also the third outcome that could happen right at the boat – a “Notice of Violation” is issued. There are two general outcomes from here.  If the boarding officer believes that the nature of the violation is inherently unsafe, you will be directed to follow the Coast Guard back to the dock. They are not going to allow you to keep fishing or sailing with some aspect of your boat that can lead to serious injury or death to you, your crew or other boaters.  Secondly, it can take on the aspect of a driving violation. The notice is mailed to the Coast Guard hearing office in Portsmouth, VA. There the boarding report will be reviewed by a case officer where fines, further letters of violations, etc. will be issued.  You will be notified by mail and you will have time (15 days) to file an appeal.

How to Avoid All This?

Well, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts free (your favorite price) vessel exams all season long – and they are not enforcement events. If your boat“fails” virtually the same inspection that would be conducted by the regulars, you get a report that details the deficiency – and the examiner’s cell phone number. He or she will tell you, “When you have this addressed, call me. I will comedown and re-run the examination.”This results in a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary sticker of compliance being affixed to your windshield or hull. Did I mention the price? FREE.


Vincent Pica, District Commodore, First District, Southern Region

 If you've ever seen the reflection of the blue-rotating hailing light in the reflection of your windshield, you've felt the quickening in certain parts of your body…“Jeez, what did I do wrong?”

The United States Coast Guard can and will board you at their discretion. They need no search warrant, no provocation,and no reason other than, “Good Morning, sir. My name is Officer Jones with the U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary 26-01 Cold Water Considerations

Sudden cold water immersion can induce hyperventilation, cardiac arrest, severe muscle spasms, and altered mental status.  When in a cold environment for prolonged periods of time, without proper survival protection you can be subject to hypothermia.  Hypothermia is defined by the abnormal decrease in the body's core temperature (<95 degrees).  This is an condition that impairs thermoregulation.  In aggressive hypothermia when the core temperature is <92 degrees the body is incapable of self-help, and at 80 degrees the heart and lungs cease to operate.​

During an event where you must enter cold water, the shore is too far away and rescue is not imminent, consider the following:

  1. When entering cold water in regards to an emergency, enter slowly and keep your head above the water
  2. If unable to find safe harbor and must remain in the water, preform the Heat Escape Lessening Position, (HELP).  Keeping your head above the water, draw your knees to your chest, and wrap your arms across your chest, hugging your life jacket.  
  3. When multiple people are in cold water, huddle together with arms and legs interlocked and heads out of the water.  This will conserve body heat and make yourselves a larger target to be seen by rescuers.

For more information visit Cold Water Boot Camp

​​    Telephone
  • ​Dial 911
  • Look in your local listing for the Coast Guard Coordination Center
  • 24 Hour regional Contact for emergency - RCC Norfolk - (757)398-6231

     VHF-FM Radio - 

​       Call U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary on Channel 16 VHF-FM

     Emergency Radio Call Procedures:

  1. Make sure radio is on
  2. Select channel 16
  3. Press/hold the transmit button
  4. Clearly say: "MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY"
  5. Also give: 
     - Vessel name and/or description
    - Position and/or location
    - Nature of emergency
    - Number of people on board
  6. Release transmit button
  7. Wait for 10 seconds - if NO response repeat call.

     Distress Signal -EPRIB

Check out these great animated knots.

Practice makes perfect!


EMERGENCY - Dial 911

​​US Coast Guard Auxiliary:    704 663 3333

​​NC Wildlife Res. Violations:  1-800 662-7137

Charlotte Meck. Lake Patrol: 704 896-2185
Catawba County Sheriff: 828 464-3112
Lincoln County Sheriff: 704 732-4993
Iredell County Lake Patrol: 704 878-3100

To operate a boat of 10 horsepower or more, in North Carolina after May 1, 2010   you must -

Possess a certificate of completion that indicates that you have successfully completed a Boater Safety Class that is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) AND accepted by the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC).

There are also 10 other ways to legally operate a boat and to comply with Statute 75A-16.2.
  • ​You can take a proctored equivalency test;

  • You can present a Coast Guard Captain's License valid or expired;

  • You can have a 90-day operator's permit issued by WRC with your vessel registration when you acquire a new or used boat;

  • You can show a rental or lease contract showing that you are renting the boat for the day and the education requirement falls upon the owner of the boat to assure that you are a safe boater;
  • You could be a Boat Salesman demonstrating the boat with proper dealer registration numbers;

  • You could prove that, you are a non- resident of North Carolina and visiting for less than 90 days. But you must also convince the officer that you meet the requirements to operate a vessel in your home state or country;
  • You could convince the same officer that you are just operating the boat to get back to safety after the real operator became impaired for some reason (good luck on this one);

  • If you're a 'Commercial Fisherman' or under the direct command of a 'Commercial Fisherman' on a commercial fishing vessel, then you're OK!Present proof that you are over 25 years old.

So, What Does North Carolina General Statute 75A-16.2 mean to you?  It's time to complete a NASBLA approved Boater Safety Education Class.  The Coast Guard Auxiliary on Lake Norman is happy to provide boating safety education for the greater Charlotte area.

To operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC), you must:
  1. Be 14 years old to operate the PWC alone

  2. Have a NASBLA approved Boater Safety Education certificate


The importance of wearing a Personal Flotation Device, is often over looked. Most drowning occur in rough seas lost, and surrounded by sharks, right? Wrong! 9 out of 10 drownings occur in inland waters within a few feet of safety.


Keep America's waterways safe. Report any suspicious activity to local authorities, or call the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH. For immediate danger to life or property, call 911, or call the U. S. Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16. 


Color (hair, eyes, skin)
Year (of birth, approximate age)
Make (race, ethnicity)
Body (height, weight, build, etc)
Attire (clothing, description, dress, etc)
Looks (hair, scars, tatoos, facial hair, etc)
Sex (male, female)


Color (paint, markings, etc)
Year (of manufacture, approximate age)
Make (make and model of boat)
Body (length, type: cruiser, runabout, PWC, etc)
Accessories (name, antennas, flag, inboard/outboard)
License / registration number
State of registration


Color (pain, markings, etc)
Year (of manufacture, approximate age)
Make (make and model of vehicle)
Body (sedan, truck, SUV, 4/2 door, etc)
Any thing else (dents, stickers, rims, etc)
License plate number
State of registration

Methods for Contacting
U.S. Coast Guard and
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Click for Mooresville, North Carolina Forecast

Recreational Boater Resource Center

Help the USCG recover lost belongings and reduce SAR cases by asking for a FREE decal!! Fill out the form below to get your "If Found Contact" decal for your kayak, Canoe, stand up paddle board, mailed to your home today!




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Lake Norman, NC Flotilla 26-01-5SR