Since we were planning to spend a few days moored in Washington D.C., I thought it might be possible to schedule a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary inspection. According to their website, the Coast Guard Auxiliary will do a free, no-strings-attached inspection of a recreational vessel on request. If we pass the inspection, we get a signed form to that effect, as well as a decal to apply to the hull which shows that we not only requested an inspection, but that we passed. If we don’t pass, there is no fine or citation issued, nor are we reported to anyone. Any deficiencies are pointed out and the appropriate corrective measures discussed. It seemed like a no-brainer.
A couple of days prior to our arrival in D.C., I got onto the Coast Guard Website. It has a nifty link to the C.G. Auxiliary website, which put me in touch with the closest inspectors. There were two who lived within a few of miles of our anchorage, and after a couple of emails back and forth with one of them, we figured out a mutually acceptable date and time, and our inspection was scheduled. The process was much faster than I anticipated and quite painless.
At the appointed time, we got a call from Patt Meyer, our inspector, and we hopped into the dinghy and went ashore to pick her up. Patt retired from the U.S. Navy a number of years ago, and has been a volunteer with both the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for several years now. She was pleasant, quite professional and knew her stuff.
Once aboard, she started through her checklist. Patt checked our flares, fire extinguishers, oil discharge and garbage placards, PFDs, documentation, life rings, bilge pumps, and holding tank, as well as a host of other things. She asked dozens of questions.
When all was done, we passed without a hitch. She completed and signed the checklist, and I happily signed as well. She issued our decal, which we stuck to the side of the coach-roof, plainly visible on the port side of Nine of Cups. After handshakes all around, we all climbed back into the dinghy and headed back to the marina.
The whole inspection process took just over an hour, time well spent in my opinion. It was a good confirmation that the time we invested in checking the federal requirements was worthwhile. And while there is no guarantee, our understanding is that the Coast Guard may give us a pass if we are stopped for a routine safety check if we point out our inspection decal. Worth the cost of admission right there!