The Coast Guard and Milwaukee Police were out in force last night inspecting boats on Lake Michigan. Also, the CG was doing voluntary inspections on the boat ramp. If you pass the voluntary inspection, you get a CG compliance sticker for your boat which lessens the chance you will be pulled over on the lake.
I'm glad I did the inspection on the ramp because I found that Lake Michigan is considered "coastal waters," so you need flares on your boat. The fine is about $170 for not having them.
In addition, the CG also checked my boat for standard stuff (the inspector indicated that lack of compliance on many of these items carries a fine of about $170):
- battery secured in place by a bracket
- fire extinguisher properly charged and secured
- not enough PFD's (including a throwable cushion)
- running lights working properly
- working horn
- engine blower that works
- bilge pump that works
- flame arrester on engine
- boat registration on my person
- certification mounted to the boat showing # of passengers the boat can carry
A couple items seemed optional, but recommended (i.e. they just asked if I had these items on board, but didn't actually ask me to prove I had them):
- anchor and line
- a bucket or cooler that can be used to bail the boat if needed
- a radio for emergency
Flares were a new one for me, though. If you are on the Great Lakes or other coastal waters, be sure you have them.