DENVER  - The Coast Guard Auxiliary puts it this way:

“Even the most experienced boater needs a safety check.”

Division 26 of the auxiliary, based in Denver, recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft and paddle sport users, take advantage of their free Vessel Safety Check program.

"The Coast Guard Auxiliary objective with Vessel Exams is to make Lake Norman a safe and fun place for our boaters and their families.  There is and always will be unexpected problems, but by having a Vessel Exam, we can help prevent some of these issues," said Sandra Stewart, CGA division commander.

To arrange for a check, contact the Lake Norman area CGA www.cgadivision26.org or call 828-478-4459.  The checks usually take less than an hour. 

Non-compliance or missing items will result in a citation or a written report from Coast Guard inspectors or local police water patrols. After a successful check, owners receive a VSC decal certifying compliance with state and federal laws.

The following items are included in the CGA’s vessel inspection:

- Registration number on boat with proper spacing

- Registration certificate on board

- Working navigation lights

- Three current day and night flares

- Wearable and throwable life preservers

- Distress flag (boats 18 foot or longer)

- Sound producing devices - whistle, horn or siren- capable of a four-second blast audible for a minimum of one-half mile.

- Boats larger than 39.4 feet are required to have a bell

- Pollution placard and trash placard for boats over 26 foot.

- Working fire extinguishers

- Proper ventilation and working blowers

- Backfire flame arrestor for gasoline engines

- An anchor with sufficient line

- Oars or paddles with boats under 16 foot

- Working bilge pumps

- Covered battery terminals in good condition

- Boats over 39.4 foot must carry current copy of Navigation Rules

There are three active Coast Guard Auxiliary flotillas - Division 26 - in the Lake Norman area – 26-1 Lake Norman, 26-3 Davidson and 26-4 Lake Norman West.