Do you know that your boat is required to carry certain equipment? It’s the law.

But you can get a free Vessel Safety Check from either of two groups on Lake Lanier: US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 29 and America’s Boating Club Atlanta.

“It’s surprising how little equipment is legally required to be on board,” said Bruce Lindsey, commander of the USCGA/Flotilla 29.

According to law, vessels more than 16 feet long ­– except canoes and kayaks – must have the following on board and accessible:

  • A Coast-Guard approved life  jacket of the type and size for each person to be appropriate for conditions and activity
  • At least one Type IV throwable flotation device
  • A working approved fire extinguisher, less than 12 years old
  • A sound-making device
  • Working running lights
  • A current Georgia DNR boat registration card

Lindsey said that there are some important adjectives in the list.

“Some boaters go to the store and purchase life jackets but they never unwrap them or keep them so that they’re easy to get to an emergency,” he said. “That’s what the ‘accessible’ means.

During the Vessel Safety Check, it’s a good time to ask questions about your boat and its operation.

“Just a few reminders from us can go a long way toward a safe boating season,” he said. “For instance, we suggest that boaters spend a few minutes at the dock, especially early in the season or if new people are aboard, to go over safety tips, such as where the life jackets are located.”

Once the check is complete the owner is given a boat decal.

“This will let the DNR and Corps of Engineers who patrol the lake know that you have undergone a Vessel Safety Check for that year,” Lindsey said. “It’s more likely that you won’t be stopped for them to check for proper equipment when you display the sticker.”

Both the USCGA and America’s Boating Club Atlanta have members who are certified to conduct these checks. By appointment, they will come to your boat slip, dock or convenient boat ramp.

“Safe boaters will have an annual safety check each year,” Lindsey said. “The checks are free. They will assist owners in being properly equipped and they are not reported to any third party. It takes less than an hour, time well spent to ensure a safer boating season.”

Sign up for safety checks at or