Recreational Boating Safety – The Recreational Boating Accident Report

By Bob Currie, Vessel Examiner
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 081-06-08
Flotilla 081-06-08 is based at Coast Guard Station Galveston. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the US Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit

Five boaters sit on a capsized 26-foot pleasure craft while a Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet crew and good Samaritans approach the vessel to assist the boaters Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018 3 miles east of Lake Worth Inlet. The Coast Guard rescue recovered all 5 boaters from the water and transferred them to awaiting emergency medical services at the Lake Park Marina near Lake Worth. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station Lake Worth Inlet)

Recreational Boating Accident Report

No one wants to use it, but everyone should be familiar with the Recreational Boating Accident Report. This is a Coast Guard form, and it may be downloaded at the following site:

Whenever There is a Boating Accident
Coast Guard regulations require that boaters follow their state requirements whenever there is a boating accident. In Texas, when involved in a boating accident, the operator is required by Section 31.104 of the Parks and Wildlife Code to:

  • Render to other persons affected such assistance as may be practicable and necessary in order to save them from or minimize any danger;
  • Give his name, address, and identification of his vessel in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any property damaged in the collision, accident, or other casualty;
  • Also according to Section 31.105 the accident must be reported to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) on or before the expiration of 30 days after the incident. The report should include a full description of the collision, accident, or casualty.

What Severity of Boating Accident Must be Reported
It is the responsibility of each boat operator who is involved in an accident to contact TPWD or your nearest law enforcement agency if the accident:

  • Results in death (within 48 hours); or
  • At least one person involved in this accident disappeared and has not been recovered; or
  • Results in injuries to a person requiring medical treatment beyond first aid; or
  • Causes damage to vessel(s) or property in excess of $2,000.00.

Accident Report Details
The accident report is quite detailed in what is required to be reported. It is a 6 page report that asks many questions regarding all events surrounding the accident. Major headings in the report include:

  • External conditions such as weather, day vs. night, visibility, and water conditions;
  • Activities involved such as cruising, waterskiing, fishing, sailing, at anchor;
  • Contributing factors on your boat such as alcohol use, drug use, excessive speed, overloading, operator inattention, and several more factors involving failure to safely operate a vessel that must be answered;
  • Machinery or equipment failure contributing to the accident such as engine, electrical, or fuel system failures, and navigation system failures;
  • Accident details including:

o Collision with a recreational boat;
o Collision with a commercial boat (tug, barge, ship)
o Collision with a fixed object (dock, bridge)
o Collision with a submerged object (stump, cable, pipe)
o Capsizing, grounding, or sinking;
o Flooding or swamping;
o Fire/Explosion (fuel or non-fuel related);
o Mishap of skier, tuber, wake boarder, etc.;
o Person fell overboard, person fell on the boat, or person struck by the boat;
o Person electrocuted.

  • Details involving the death or injuries of persons involved in the accident;
  • Details about the boat operator, including whether a life jacket was worn, whether the operator had attended a safe boating course, and whether drugs or alcohol were used;
  • Details of other key people involved in the accident.

The report must be submitted within 48 hours in the case of a death, injury, or disappearance. In the case of boat or property damage, you have 10 days to submit the report.

To report an accident, contact your local game warden, local law enforcement agency, or call the TPWD 24 Hour Police Communications Operator at (512) 389-4848. Each boat operator involved in an accident should submit a separate report. The Coast Guard uses the information from the report for statistical purposes, chiefly to inform the public, to measure the Recreational Boating Safety Program’s efforts, and to regulate issues relating to recreational boating safety.

Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall Update
If you have one of the fire extinguishers that have been recalled by the manufacturer, and it is not out of date and shows a charge, then that fire extinguisher may be used to fulfill the fire extinguisher requirement in order to receive a Vessel Safety Check decal. All of the fire extinguishers involved in the recall have plastic handles and activators. The issue with the extinguishers is that the plastic parts have broken in some cases when they were used, and the fire extinguisher did not work. Kidde will replace the fire extinguisher if it is part of the recall. For more information about the recalled extinguishers and how they may be replaced, go to the following site:

For more information on boating safety, please visit the Official Website of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division at Questions about the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or our free Vessel Safety Check program may be directed to me at I am available to perform free Vessel Safety Checks, and I will come to your location to perform them. SAFE BOATING!


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