Equipment Requirements

The Adventures in Boating Washington Handbook provides a checklist of legally required items by boat type and size. The following is a short list of key equipment you should carry on board.

Life Jackets

  • All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III life jacket for each person on board.
  • Boats 16 feet or longer must carry one Type IV (throwable) U.S. Coast Guard–approved life preserver in addition to Type I, II or III. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
  • See our Life Jackets page for more information.

Fire Extinguishers

  • l vessels with a motor must maintain a Type B fire extinguisher on board if one or more of the following conditions exist:
    • Inboard engine
    • Vessel length of 26 feet or longer
    • Closed compartments used to store portable fuel tanks and other flammable materials
    • Double-bottoms not sealed to the hull or which are not completely filled with flotation material
    • Enclosed living spaces
    • Permanently installed fuel tanks
  • Review the fire extinguisher requirement in the Adventures in Boating Washington Handbook.

Navigation Lights

The required navigation lights must be displayed between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility such as fog or heavy rain. See requirements for larger vessels by visiting the U.S. Coast Guard’s online navigation rules.

Ventilation Systems, Backfire Flame Arrestors, Mufflers

Properly installed ventilation systems greatly reduce the chances of life-threatening explosions. Find out about ventilation requirements for various gasoline-powered vessels. A gasoline-powered motorboat (not outboard) requires a backfire flame arrestor as well. Mufflers are required for all vessels, except canoes and kayaks.

Sound Signals

All boaters, including those using canoes, kayaks, and personal watercraft, must carry a sound signal, such as a horn, bell, or whistle. Learn key sound signals to avoid confusion and or collisions. The device must be audible for a half-mile.

Carbon Monoxide Warning Sticker

All boats, except canoes, kayaks, and personal watercraft, must display a sticker warning passengers about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Details and how to get your sticker.