US Coast Guard Documentation Boondoggle

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mholzmann's picture
Joined: 6/12/08
Posts: 77
US Coast Guard Documentation Boondoggle

Many boat/vessel owners have chosen to "Document" their boats with the US Coast Guard vs individual State registrations.  Each year the owner of a documented vessel needs to renew and confirm their registration with the US Coast Guard (USCG).  I have been doing this for my vessel for the past 20 years.

It used to be of no charge but for the past several years a charge of $26.00 has been required.


Due to this requirement, new and visually misleading websites have popped up on the internet that give the impression you are renewing your vessel with the USCG.  In addition to websites, boat owners are also contacted directly by mail.  The envelope and letters sent are very official looking.  The return address on the envelope is West Virginia even though mailed and postmarked for California.  The actual US Coast Guard documentation center is in West Virginia and the return address on this envelope is not there by accident, it is meant to deceive. The enclosed letter gives you the contact website to take action to renew.  The website is quite extensive and again creates the illusion you are dealing with USCG. 



So here is the problem with this activity.  You are being charged for a superfluous service, on average these businesses will charge you $75.00 to "handle" the renewal of your USCG Vessel documentation.  The actual charge with USCG is $26.00.  It takes the same amount of time to fill out their form on line as it does the official USCG online renewal. 


To be fair, technically these companies are acting legally within Federal regulations and do perform to renew your documentation.  However the requirement to notify the consumer requires very close attention to small print and reading complete disclosures.  When given the impression you are dealing with a Federal agency many will for go the technical diligence. 


In closing I thought I would give you the definition of Boondoggle.  It fits perfectly in this case   


noun: boondoggle; plural noun: boondoggles

  1. 1.

    work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value


Hope this saves you folks a bit of money!!!

Mark Holzmann
Sail #1246
Rose City Yacht Club-Portland OR