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FLOAT TUBE FISHING FORUM » Float Tubes, Pontoons and Related Equipment Discussions » Float Tube, Pontoon, and Equipment Related Discussions » Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes

Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes

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1 Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Fri May 05, 2017 9:46 pm

Ornery Bob

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I've always been curious if there was some sort of official designation of where, or even if, float tubes fit within the idea of "boating regulations."

Heck, here we are paddling around with swim fins on jumped up inner tubes, I could even see us being classified as swimmers.

But it turns out the Coast Guard has, indeed, made a ruling concerning where float tubes fit in the regulations and we are officially "vessels."

USCG Vessel Determinations

In other words, we're boats and we must follow Coast Guard Regulations.

There are sub-categories like "recreational vessels," "inflatable watercraft" or "non-motorized" vessels, but the main thing this means for tubers is we must follow this rule:

All recreational vessels must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board.

This is probably old news to most of the guys here, and I've always had a pfd from the very beginning, but, like I said, I had never seen it actually spelled out that float tubes really are vessels under USCG regulations.

Look at me, I'm a boat owner! Cool

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2 Re: Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Sat May 06, 2017 6:50 am

Jerdon

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As a surfer I always found this curious. I can paddle my surfboard where ever I wish without being bothered about a lifejacket. My girl can bob around on an inner tube and catch some sun. But if I hold onto a fishing pole in an inner tube I am suddenly subject to coastguard regulations and lifejacket rules. That said I always wear a lifejacket now. I used to tie it the side of my donut style tube.


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3 Re: Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Mon May 15, 2017 2:27 pm

Partycrasher


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I was wondering how the Coasties will react to a float tube here on Lake Michigan. I use them in Lake Michigan lagoon, estuary, boat harbor type areas but not in the main lake. The big violation for small boats up here on Lake Michigan is not having a flare gun. Would they cite me for not having a flare gun in my float tube? Common sense says no.... but?

4 Re: Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Mon May 15, 2017 2:42 pm

Jerdon

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Common sense and government agencies are not often used in the same sentence. I say buy one and stick it in one of the pockets. Why risk the ticket.


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5 Re: Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Mon May 15, 2017 8:53 pm

Mscustomflies

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I bought a tube as I had nowhere to store a boat, turns out I'm a boat owner too lol. Common sense should prevail regarding a pfd, it's not worth it to go out without one

6 Re: Coast Guard Classification of Float Tubes on Mon May 15, 2017 9:34 pm

Ornery Bob

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According to the Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities (.pdf), night visible Visual Distress Signals are required for all vessels operating between sunset and sunrise (in the dark) but not for daytime operation by recreational vessels less than 16 ft in length. (page 34)

The night visible VSD can be a battery powered light.

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