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Safe at Sea: Boat owners required to carry documents on board

August 1, 2018
By BOB EIDSVOLD , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

When boating in the waterways of Florida, two documents are required to be carried on most vessels and during an inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard or a law enforcement officer. They include:

- Certificate of registration

- Copy of the nautical Rules of the Road

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Most boat dealers can provide a Coast Guard publication with the navigation rules included, along with an explanation of the aids for navigation in the buoy and marker system in U.S. waterways.

The "Boater's Guide to the Federal Requirements For Recreational Boats" is a comprehensive guide to the Coast Guard required safety equipment and also contains the required navigation rules document.

America's Boating Club features "The One-Minute Guide to the Nautical Rules of the Road," by Charlie Wing," which also satisfies the requirement for carrying the rules onboard most boats in Florida. It can be purchased online at The guide is very comprehensive and contains an outline and an explanation of the practical working of 38 nautical rules of the road.

As stated by Wing in the publication:

"The International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea are the rules of the road on the water. These rules, and the essentially identical United States Inland Rules, apply to all boats regardless of type or size, on all seas and on most U.S. bays, inlets, rivers, and waterways connected to the sea.

"In spite of the serious consequences of boating accidents, less than 10 percent of boaters have an even rudimentary familiarity with the rules. The International Maritime Organization estimates that over 80 percent of all boating accidents are due to human error and that most stem from the failure to comply with one or more provisions of the rules.

"The fact that most small boat operators lack a working knowledge of the rules is understandable. Like most legal documents, the rules appear to be quite complex. In translation, however, the rules can be readily understood by anyone who knows port from starboard. We offer this little book as a painless introduction."

Boat owners should endeavor to be familiar with the navigation rules of the road.

America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva offers educational classes that highlight the rules. In September, the club will publish online a calendar of its courses for the 2018-2019 season.

Bob Eidsvold is a member of America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or or visit online at



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