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post #1 of 5 Old 02-13-2012 Thread Starter
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new boat - documentation?

Good morning:

We recently purchased a new (to us) sailboat and am starting work on the paperwork to get everything transferred.

The seller has a valid and properly notarized state title transferring ownership to me. Typically (like with my other boats), we'd just have this recorded with the state, and add the registration numbers (and annual validation sticker) to the bow area.

I've been seeing some talk on here about the USCG (Federal) registration/documentation process too. Is this worthwhile for me to consider doing?

Next year we're planning to spend a couple of months on board in the Caribbean islands. Would this federal document be required or helpful or a waste of time?

thx, markb
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-13-2012
S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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Here's a link to the vessel documentation center's website if you don't have it already, so you can double check everything I say, sense I don;t really know what I'm talking about...

USCG National Vessel Documentation Center, Home Page

We are about to get our boat documented so have been doing so research. Here is what I found....

The up side -

-It can make going into other foreign countries easier, even if they will accept a state registration. This has never been an issue with going to Canada, our only foreign port experience, and the Caribbean shouldn't be an issue either from what I here, but you won;t have to wonder if you get it documented, or if you want to go elsewhere at the last minute, or if policies change.

-If you move between states very often, you won't have to change the registration numbers. This is the big one for us at the moment, as we have moved the boat between Oregon and Washington a few times an intend to do so some more. Washington requires registration ofter 60 days (IIRC) so just taking the boat to the sound for the summer could require changing the numbers, then changing again when we get home. Of course, enforcement is another issue, but I don't like wondering if I'll get caught. So far I have changed the numbers twice, and plan to be documented before I need to do it again.

The Down Side -
-Selling a documented boat has a whole new set of rules, see the website for details. Just forms to file and what not.

-If the boat has a lien on it, there are more forms and rules, see the web site for details.

-You need to permanently affix the documentation number inside the hull, in a visible location, again, see the website for the details.

-I think you need to remember to re-file something every so often to let them know you still have the boat.

The Sideways Side (not up or down)

-You still need to register the boat in any state it is staying in for a while, pay the fees and get the sticker, you just don't have to apply / change the registration numbers any more. They still want their money for you using their waters and water related facilities (and rightly so) so you don't save anything there, just don't have to manage the numbers if you move around allot.

Well, that's all I know. Likely more then you asked for, and some you already know, but there you go anyway!

S/V Lilo
1964 Islander 32
Saint Helens, OR
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-13-2012
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Mark, you can contact the USCG vessel documentation center online or by phone, they're very helpful people.

Documentation provides a uniform federal registry of title, so if your boat is stolen there's one national source that can sometimes stop it from being resold elsewhere.

It will also usually make your life simpler clearing in and out of foreign ports, which may or may not recognize or honor state registrations.

Is it necessary? No, unless one of the places you intend to visit requires it. But you pay once, and then renewal is free, and having the central title registry might be worth the price. Documented vessels also used to get other perqs but very few mean much these days. I think it is title 10 USCode that tells you what the pros and cons are.
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post #4 of 5 Old 02-13-2012
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Putting the document numbers inside the boat....yes, they have to be visible, but they can be hidden in the bilge or some other place so long as they are easily accessible in case you get boarded and the coasties want to see your document numbers. Not like they have to be mounted on a bulkhead or someplace out in the open on the boat.

Not having state registration numbers on the bow...a big plus for me. Yes, many states still want you to register the boat with them (some don't) but by CG regulations, you cannot put state numbers on the bow.

Catalina 34
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-13-2012
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Plus, it makes the county tax man work a little harder to send you the property tax bill, when the boat is documented. They still find you, but if I can make them work a bit....

Ed Hughes
1988 Catalina 34-La Vie Dansante
San Diego Yacht Club
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