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Question: Does the tender (i.e. dinghy) to a federally documented vessel require a separate state registration?

I've been operating for years under the assumption that it does not -- if it is used only for transport to and from the vessel it is carried aboard. I've never had a problem in US or foreign waters. Am I correct or have I just been lucky?
 

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I do believe it really depends on the state. If it has a motor many states require it. That is what NJ told me.
 

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Yes. Wu-Wei is documented, but we have had to register the dink in the state of Florida every year. If it has a motor, you must register it. Having a motor makes it a vessel, regardless of size or the mothership.

Now, if your dink has no motor (inflatable, fiberglass, wood, or kayak), then, no, you are not required to register it regardless of your vessel being documented.
 

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Same in California, everything with a motor must be registered with the state regardless of mothership's papers.
 

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Registration

In California every vessel with a motor, regardless of length, and every sailboat over 8 feet has to be registered. Boats only using oars or paddles are exempted, as are boats used for racing only.
 

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Billy,

My understanding is the same as yours, i.e. the tender to a federally documented vessel is exempt from state registration requirements regardless of whether it has a motor or not.

The catch, however, is that a "tender" is defined as a vessel used exclusively for transporting the crew of the documented vessel directly to and from shore. No diversions or excursions are permitted. So if you plan to putter around all over the place in the dinghy for joyrides, and it has an engine, the exemption doesn't apply and most states will require a separate registration.
 

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Billy,

My understanding is the same as yours, i.e. the tender to a federally documented vessel is exempt from state registration requirements regardless of whether it has a motor or not.

The catch, however, is that a "tender" is defined as a vessel used exclusively for transporting the crew of the documented vessel directly to and from shore. No diversions or excursions are permitted. So if you plan to putter around all over the place in the dinghy for joyrides, and it has an engine, the exemption doesn't apply and most states will require a separate registration.
Billy, John,
Last Summer we were stopped by the CG in Bellingham Bay and thats exactly what the PO said to us. "no diversions or excursions without registration" We took her back to the boat.
 

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As a follow-up to my previous post, this is what it says in the FAQ section of the USCG Vessel Documentation Center:

IS THE VESSEL TENDER DOCUMENTED?

Documentation of your vessel does not cover the vessel's tender or dinghy. These craft fall within the jurisdiction of the motorboat numbering laws of the state of principal use. Please contact your state agency that handles the registration or numbering of motorboats for further information.
HOWEVER, this is what the Code of Federal Regulations at Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters, has to say:

§ 173.13 Exemptions.

Where the Coast Guard issues numbers, the following classes of vessels are exempt, under Section 12303 of Title 46, United States Code, from the numbering provisions of Sections 12301 and 12302 of Title 46, United States Code, and this part:

(a) A vessel that is used exclusively for racing.

(b) A vessel equipped with propulsion machinery of less than 10 horsepower that:

(1) Is owned by the owner of a vessel for which a valid certificate of number has been issued;

(2) Displays the number of that numbered vessel followed by the suffix “1” in the manner prescribed in §173.27; and

(3) Is used as a tender for direct transportation between that vessel and the shore and for no other purpose.
So the exemption, if it exists at all (??) would only apply to a motorized dinghy of less than 10hp.
 

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A number of boaters with tenders without state registration have been ticketed in Rhode Island waters in recent years. I was told they had to appear in court - just couldn't mail in the fine. Hearing that, I immediately registered my inflatable.
 

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Hmm...definitely different stuff here, but now that I'm federally registered in Canada, I should check this out.

I do know one thing: putting "T/T Your Boat's Name" on the bow of the inflatable or dinghy might help you identify it in a row of beached tenders, but it also tells potential thieves that you are not currently aboard the main boat. This is why we've named our uniquely with no (easily visible) identification with the main boat. We've also relied on colour schemes and the fact that neither tender is an inflatable to help us find each other in the harbour and on shore.

A Portabote, for one thing, may be a capable cargo mover and rowboat, but it looks cheap and unappealing, as does our boat (in part due to its intrinsic "fish boat" lines, but also because I want it to look "not new"). I hope this will deter as least in part boat robberies. Deck-coloured tacks and electrified hatches should do the rest....
 

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billy-
As others have said, in the US, IT ALL DEPENDS ON STATE LAW. Documentation and documentation laws have nothing to do with state registration requirements and state motor vehicle laws. Anything you've got with a motor on it, is a motor vehicle and subject to state motor vehicle laws in almost all states.

In Florida, your dink would require registration. In some other states--it would not. Overseas, again, everything changes with where you are but as long as you are a transient and visitor, you will only be expected to meet the laws of your home flag.

Check your home state laws--and comply with them. And remember that if you are in some other state for as little as 30 days--the laws of THAT state may take precedence. (i.e. if your home state doesn't require dink registration, but you summer in Florida--you'll have to register the dink regardless.)
 

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In California every vessel with a motor, regardless of length, and every sailboat over 8 feet has to be registered. Boats only using oars or paddles are exempted, as are boats used for racing only.
DMV has to know about the vessel in California, but if it is a USCG Documented vessel it will not be issued a state tag or be charged state registration fees, but will pay a yearly fee to the USCG. I know this to be true, because my boat is a USCG Documented vessel...but I think a dingy would be a state issue.
 

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This is just a side question regarding California registration. Registration numbers start with the letters CF...what does the CF stand for?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Valiente wrote:
"I do know one thing: putting "T/T Your Boat's Name" on the bow of the inflatable or dinghy might help you identify it in a row of beached tenders, but it also tells potential thieves that you are not currently aboard the main boat."
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We started our our Caribbean sojourn w/ the dinghy marked as t/t Billy Ruff'n, but we quickly changed it to t/t 1088416 for the reasons you outlined.

Based on the input above, I guess I should add a "1" to the number.
 

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Do you suppose , in this country founded out of a tax revolt , that there will soon be a tax on the wake your dingy makes ????
 

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Yeah, first two letters for all states designate the state, California is CF, Washington WA, Arizona AZ.
 

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Agree that it is state dependent. As an aside, the St. Maarten Coast Guard has Begun stopping dinghys and checking for lights, anchors, life jackets in Simpson Bay Lagoon and a number of cruisers have been fined this Winter.
 
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