2015 New York Safe Boating - 20
non-professional individual builder. If you would like more
information or a copy of this pamphlet, please contact the
USCG Office of Boating Safety.
All motorized boats will create a certain amount of noise-
that's unavoidable. However, the people residing along
the shore, and the wildlife that live on the waterways and
surrounding areas, are entitled to protection from excessive
The following equipment is not required by
law, but is useful in an emergency
First Aid Kit
Boats that are too noisy are not just annoying, they're
safety hazards. The operator of a loud boat may find his
or her senses dulled by the noise and vibration, and be less
responsive to environmental and operating conditions. In
addition, a boat that is too loud may drown out the sound
signals of other boats nearby.
The first duty of an operator is the safety of the crew and
passengers. So keep a first aid kit on your boat with enough
supplies to handle every kind of minor accident. Include
supplies to take care of cuts and scrapes, sunburns and other
burns, and bug bites and stings. Keep analgesics, seasick
medication or any other kind of medication that you or your
passenger may require in an emergency on board in your first
aid kit. You also should consider including materials that you
can fashion into a splint if someone breaks a bone.
New York has established maximum noise levels for
recreational boats. New York State Parks trains boat noise
enforcement officers to ensure that all pleasure boats
operating on New York State waters comply with the noise
limits. If these officers suspect a boat is exceeding the legal
noise limit, they may order the operator to submit to noise
testing. If a boat fails the noise test, the officer can order the
boat to dock until it is in compliance. Failure to comply with
a noise officer's directive is a violation and can lead to a fine
of up to $250.00.
But keep in mind that a good first aid kit doesn't help much
if no one onboard knows first aid. A responsible boat
operator will take at least a basic first aid course to learn how
to use the contents of the first aid kit, and how to recognize
medical emergencies that require professional intervention.
The American Red Cross, the YMCA/YWCA, fire departments
and other organizations offer first aid courses.
Boat manufacturers have made strides in producing quieter
boats over the years, and that progress is likely to continue.
But the noise a boat generates isn't just a matter of the
manufacturing process: the way the operator handles and
maintains the boat has an impact too. All power boats
must be equipped with a muffler system designed to reduce
engine exhaust noise. Most stock boats come from the
manufacturer with systems designed to meet New York's
It's good to have a bilge pump on board, even though the
law doesn't require you to have one. Virtually all boats end
up with unwanted water in the bilge (the area beneath the
floorboards, or the lowest point of hull in a boat without
floorboards). This can occur from rain, rough seas or another
boat's wake. You need to remove the water for your boat to
handle properly, and a bilge pump is easier and faster than
trying to bail the water manually.
IT IS ILLEGAL TO REMOVE, MODIFY OR ALTER
A BOAT'S MUFFLER OR EXHAUST SYSTEM TO
EXCEED THE STATE'S MAXIMUM LIMITS!
Besides making bail easier, bilge pumps can be useful in
an emergency. Even though they aren't large or powerful
enough to keep up with a leak caused by hull damage, if
your boat is damaged and taking on water, a bilge pump
may buy you time to put on a PFD, send a distress signal and
try to get to a shallow area before your boat sinks.
Since 1972 all manufacturers of boats less than 20 feet in
length have been required to install built-in flotation. Those
built since 1978 have sufficient flotation to float the boat
and its occupants, even when flooded with water. This
feature is also found on some larger boats. Because of this
built-in feature, your boat can also double as a self-rescue
platform in the event of an accident. Should a boat with
installed flotation swamp, flood, or otherwise partially sink
in the water, don't abandon it. First, try to climb back in and
maneuver the boat to shore. Even if you can't maneuver
it, remember that the shoreline is usually further away than
it looks and it is harder to find a person swimming than a
person in a boat. If you stay with a boat that continues to
float, you increase your visibility and your chance of rescue.
On small boats, such as hand propelled boats, unwanted
water can be removed by using a device as simple as a
portable piston pump or bucket. Boats such as runabouts
and ski boats use a single submersible electric pump in the
stern or in the lowest point in the bilge. Small cruising and
racing sailboats can use one large diaphragm bilge pump
mounted in the cockpit. Coastal and offshore boats will
generally have automatic electric bilge pumps located in each
compartment (bilge area) that can hold water, and a large
manual pump for backup.
Test the bilge pump frequently to ensure that it remains
in working order. Turn the switch from the automatic to
the manual position to make sure the pump responds as it
should. You should also check the automatic float switch by
manually raising it to make sure that it turns on the pump. If
this switch fails the pump won't turn on and your boat could
take on sufficient water over time to do serious damage.
If you decide to build your own boat, the US Coast Guard
has a free book for you called "Safety Standards for
Backyard Boat Builders," (COMTDPUB P16761.3B). This
is a simplified explanation of federal recreational boat
construction requirements and is intended for the use of the