The Coast Guard sets minimum standards for recreational boats and associated safety equipment. To meet these standards some of the equipment must be Coast Guard approved. "Coast Guard Approved Equipment" meets Coast Guard specifications and regulations for performance, construction or materials.
This section contains information about Federal laws, equipment requirements, and safety recommendations for recreational vessels. Minimum federal requirements appear in green and italics. It's important that you understand that these Federal Equipment Requirements:
In addition to the requirements stated in this guide, the owner/operator may be required to comply with additional regulations and/or laws specific to the state in which the vessel is registered or operated. To ensure compliance with state boating laws, you should contact the appropriate boating agency in your area. A vessel in compliance with the laws of the state of registration may not meet the requirements of another state where the vessel is being operated.
As a boat operator, you are expected to make sure that your boat, referred to in the law as a vessel, carries at least a minimum of safety equipment (carriage requirements) and complies with federal and state regulations for such things as numbering and operation.
There are other equipment considerations that are recommended for your safety and the safety of your passengers. This information is part of the Vessel Safety Check Program and outlined in a pre-departure checklist.
for more info see http://www.uscgboating.org/
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