Fremont Insurance Helps Boaters Avoid Most Common Small Passenger Deficiencies

Apr 23, 2012, 09:09 ET from Fremont Insurance

FREMONT, Mich., April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- With the long-awaited arrival of boating season in Michigan, Fremont Insurance wants to make sure that boaters have properly ensured the seaworthiness of their vessel before making their maiden voyage to avoid costly run-ins with authorities and guarantee the safety of the vessels passengers.

"With an abundance of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes that the state has to offer, it should come as no surprise that boating is one of Michigan's most popular summertime activities," said Kurt Dettmer, vice president and chief marketing officer for Fremont Insurance.  "Unfortunately, in all the excitement to get back out on the water it can be easy to miss some common vessel deficiencies which may result in fines or in some cases may even compromise the safety of the vessel."

The United States Coast Guard has identified the Top 10 Small Passenger Vessel Deficiencies that owners should check for, and correct if necessary, before their next Coast Guard examination.


All cables or wires must serve some piece of equipment or system onboard the vessel. If a piece of equipment is removed, the cable or wire that serviced the equipment must also be removed from the power supply.


Routine examinations of every vessel's hull, both internally and externally are critical to the safety of a vessel. Wood vessels should be checked for wasted wood planking and deteriorated fasteners. Steel and Aluminum hulled vessels are prone to get cracked welds and rusting and fiberglass hulled vessels may suffer from delamination, blisters, or cracks/knicks in the gel coat.  Identifying problems early can prevent costly repairs or even major hull damage in the future.


All certificated small passenger vessels 26 feet or greater, regardless of build date, must have visual and audible bilge high level alarms for normally unmanned spaces that might flood, whether from a fractured through-hull fitting below the deepest load waterline, spaces containing charged sea water piping, and spaces with a non-watertight closure, such as a space with a non-watertight hatch on the main deck.  Testing bilge level alarms and visual indicators is relatively easy and should be done regularly to ensure proper operation.


Specific small passenger vessels are permitted to have portable hand bilge pumps as a secondary or emergency means of dewatering a space. Many of the examination activities showed that vessel owners failed to maintain a portable pump onboard or that the portable pump was either inoperable or not usable in all spaces of the vessel. Vessel owners/operators should test their portable hand bilge pumps on a regular basis to ensure proper operation.


Marine Radios, EPIRBs, and AIS equipment required to be installed on small passenger vessels must comply with FCC requirements including FCC issued station licenses mandated in 47 CFR 80.13. Many certificated small passenger vessels are issued deficiencies for not having an FCC Station License for their marine radio.


All vessels must have navigation lights in accordance with the International and Inland Navigation Rules. During safety examinations, many vessels are found to have inoperable stern, mast, and sidelights. In some instances the installation of these lights was also found to conflict with the International and Inland Navigation Rules. Vessels of greater than 65 feet in length must also have navigation lights that are compliant with UL 1104 standards.  Though many vessels normally operate in daylight hours only, vessel owners/operators should test their navigational lights prior to each voyage to ensure proper operation.


All light fixtures that may be subject to damage must have a guard or be made of high strength material. Light fixtures on the open weather deck, engine room, or other machinery space must be protected with guards. Lights in accommodation spaces are normally exempted from this requirement because they are not subject to damage.


All small passenger vessels that are certificated to operate on the high seas or three miles beyond the coastline of the Great Lakes must have a FCC Type Accepted Category 1, 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio beacon (EPIRB) installed in a float free system.  Many small passenger vessels failed to replace the hydrostatic release prior to its expiration date. Vessel owners/operators should inspect their EPIRBs monthly to ensure they operate properly. The hydrostatic release unit for the EPIRB must be replaced prior to expiration to ensure that it will successfully release the EPIRB should the vessel sink.


All certificated small passenger vessels must carry appropriate navigational charts that cover the area in which they operate. These charts must be kept current using regularly published Notices to Mariners.  Many vessels that received deficiencies for outdated or missing navigation charts were also found to be missing other required nautical publications which include the U.S. Coast Pilot, Coast Guard Light List, Tide Tables, and Current Tables. Vessels may use extracts from these publications for the area of operations in lieu of carrying the complete publication.


All certificated small passenger vessels certificated must have a Coast Guard approved first aid kit.  The most common deficiency with first aid kits is expired medications. When an expired medication is discovered, it must be replaced promptly. Individual items in CG approved first aid kits may be replaced as necessary with equivalent medications. Just because one item in a first aid kit is expired does not mean that the whole kit must be replaced!

About Fremont Insurance

Fremont Insurance is a subsidiary of the Auto Club Group, servicing the Independent Agents of Michigan. The company has been a Pure Michigan company since 1876. Dynamic Products, Exceptional Service, and Competitive Pricing have made Fremont Insurance one of the fastest growing and most respected companies operating in Michigan.  For more information about Fremont Insurance you can visit the company online at, find them on facebook at, or follow them on twitter at





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