Thursday, June 25, 2009

Equipment Requirements for Sailing Dinghies in Rhode Island and New Mexico

Rhode Island


New Mexico

Yes, except “racing only”, canoe, rowboat £ 12’

Numbering, certificate of number, reg’n

Yes, if over 10’ or motorized, windsurfers & paddle craft exempt

No if under 14’


Yes, if over 10’ (except windsurfers & paddle craft)

One per person

Life Vest (PFD)

One per person

Child under age 10 and persons on PWC

PFD worn?

Child under age 13 unless below deck, PWCers, skiers

No if under 16’

Throwable PFD

No if under 16’

None unless motorized (some open boats with outboard are exempt)

Fire extinguisher

None unless inboard motor, or enclosed cabin, fuel, or storage spaces

“means of making an efficient sound signal” in state waters, under 16’

Sound-producing device, state waters

Yes; whistle or device producing 2 sec. sound at ½ mile

“whistle or horn audible for at least one-half mile” in federal waters

Sound-producing device, federal waters


None if under 16' or open sailboat under 26' or paddlecraft; else 3 day signals

Visual distress signals: Day

None (no federal waters in NM)

3 night signals (flares or light) meeting §46 CFR parts 160, 161

Visual distress signals: Night

None (no federal waters in NM)

Lantern/flashlight if under 23' and no motor (else regular lights)

Navigation lights

Lantern visible 360 if under 26’ & no motor (else regular lights)

Anyone born > Jan. 1, 1986, & all PWC operators

Boating safety class certificate for operator?

Anyone born > Jan. 1, 1989



Yes (except some big boats with high freeboard)


Bucket or bailing device



Length of “stout” line

Yes, at least as long as boat

Note: I don’t address requirements that obviously don’t apply to small sailing dinghies, such as backfire flame arrestors, ventilation systems, mufflers, ship’s bells, ignition safety lanyards, garbage disposal placards, discharge of oil prohibited placards, waste management plans, etc.

Rhode Island Note:

Sound signal exemption for “pure racers”.

No one may operate a vessel in any harbor, inlet, pond, or any other confined body of water in Rhode Island at a speed in excess of:

  • 45 miles per hour from sunrise to sunset and ...
  • 25 miles per hour from sunset to sunrise or during other periods of restricted visibility such as fog.

Do you think this could put a crimp in the lifestyles of some high-performance dinghy sailors?

Rhode Island defines a sailboat as a motorboat for purposes of registration and some equipment requirements: "Motorboat" means any vessel whether or not the vessel is propelled by machinery. For purposes of this chapter, motorboat shall not include houseboats as defined in § 44-5-25.1, canoes, and rowboats twelve feet (12') in length or less.

New Mexico takes a slightly more tortured path; it defines a motorboat as a vessel with propulsion machinery, and then defines sails as propulsion machinery for purposes of registration and some other requirements.


At 12:55 PM, June 25, 2009, Blogger Litoralis said...

I don't think many high-performance dinghy sailors sail from sunset to sunrise, i.e, AT NIGHT. Also, even if there were enough wind to get up to 25 MPH in the fog, doing it would be stupid.

45 miles per hour is very fast for any sailboat and is probably beyond the ability of most dinghies.

At 2:17 PM, June 25, 2009, Blogger Pat said...

Well, we know that sailors tend to be a bit smarter than other sorts of boaters, but surely there are a few stupid dinghy sailors. Though maybe even fewer of these can handle a foiling Moth or Aussie skiff to at least somewhat threaten the limit.

With flat water and good wind a windsurfer should be able to break the law. Presumably the law applies even to frozen water, so ice boats should be able to beat the speed limit on a a frozen pond under the right conditions.

Maybe we need to leave the dinghies altogether and look to high-performance multi-hull sailors to do something truly fast and foolish in a confined space. Plus, their crashes can be quite spectacular and messy, with lots of appeal to the NASCAR set that usually ignores sailing.

And, think of what a great dumb achievement it would be for a sailor to be cited for breaking this particular regulation.


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