Registration - What's The Deal?

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by mebjen, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. mebjen

    mebjen New Member

    OK - I'm trying to figure out if I need to register my boat or not. It's a Clackacraft SSG - 15' 11" from bow to stern with an electric motor.

    From what I can tell from the reg's if its under 16' with less than a 10 HP motor - you don't have to. But then it talks about federal waters -

    What have others done . . . . .

  2. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    I ended up having to get a # for my 13' canoe when I put an electric on it. That's so I could fish anywhere without wondering. Most lower rivers and tidal creeks I fish are influenced by the tide, or are considered "navigable waters" in their lower reaches, so they qualify for a number on both counts. Any salt water, large reservoirs, navigable rivers and waterways, and waters adjacent to any federal compounds or property require that you have a # on your boat of any size if you have any kind of motor on it.
    But for most smaller or landlocked lakes and "non-navigable waters", you don't need a number if your boat is less than 16' and you've got less than 10 hp.
  3. Bill Aubrey

    Bill Aubrey Active Member

    I spoke with a couple of fish cops at a Sportsman's Show a couple of years ago and asked if I needed to register a pontoon boat if I put an electric motor on it. One said no, the other said definitely yes. The one who said no told me there are a lot of officers like his partner who feel it is required and will write you up? So, are you willing to take time off work and fight a ticket? In an out of area jurisdiction? Where you may lose because it is income? I'd register.
  4. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    email the DOL for their list of navigable waters. Things are simple then.
  5. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    If you get it registered than you don't have to worry.

    Most of the tribs to Puget Sound and the Columbia are considered federal navigable waterways and would require the boat to be registered.

    The regs are old and need to be updated for situations such as yours. It is definably unnecessarily onerous to have to register a 8' inflatable poontoon or a 15'11" rowboat just because you put an electric motor on it.

    In my experience cops really have no clue when it comes to maritime law. I even had one tell me I couldn't drink a beer on my boat because it was "in public".
  6. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

  7. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Good find. That's the list.
  8. mebjen

    mebjen New Member

    Thanks for all the feedback -
    I did talk with a gal at DOL yesterday and she didn't come across as knowing for certain either - she finally ended it with; "why wouldn't you want to register it - you would then have proof of ownership if something ever happened" -

    So - it probably just comes down to get it done so I don't have to worry about it . . . .. .
  9. ken2cross

    ken2cross Member


    There is a disclaimer in that document.
    Also: Lake Stevens isn't listed there and it is "Federal Waters" and does require registration and you will get sited if they catch you there.
  10. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    It can be confusing. I have a 100 ton masters license and have had some arguments with other captains on this very issue, but you're right to just do it to avoid potential problems.
  11. mebjen

    mebjen New Member

    Went yesterday to the courthouse (DOL) to do the licensing business - even has I was in there with 3 different 'public servants' - they still needed to call Olympia and even then there wasn't a clear definitive answer.

    Very frustrating . . . . . .
  12. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Hmmm, I notice that on this list, Lake Chelan is considered to be a "landlocked lake" since the outlet river going into the Columbia R is non-navigable for part of its way, and (I am assuming) one can't just power up into the lake from the Columbia. Does this mean you don't need a number in Lake Chelan? I would think one might need a number on their powered boat in a lake that large.

    I sometimes use my electric on my Don Hill mini-drifter in lakes, and some tidal creeks. For one of the creeks that is considered navigable upstream a short ways from the ramp before becoming non-navigable for power boats except at high tide, I just ignore the rules, since no one cares or is ever watching, and as soon as I disappear around the first bend, I'm good. I refuse to get a number on my pram for just that one short little stretch of water where I will cheat and feel OK with it.

  13. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    In this case "Navigable" is a made up legal definition so don't expect it make sense. Also keep in mind that the confusion in only on boats under 16' that you put a motor on. Any sail or power boat above 16' needs registration numbers. Any boat that is only designed for oar or paddle is exempt from registration.
  14. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Yes, and once I get upstream, I have to raise the motor and row. I usually row all the way back downstream to the ramp.
    I remember that when I was first researching this, I found a clause that a boat designed for paddle or oar might be exempt if the motor is not the primary means of propulsion. So If I row most of the time, then I figure my electric is not "the primary means of propulsion." Only problem is that I no longer am able to find this clause.
    I have also thought of just stowing the 30 #thrust Minnkota inside the boat until I get around that first bend, if anyone who might care is watching. I can always claim that I have a trick shoulder and might need the motor if it pops out or starts giving me trouble.
  15. David Loy

    David Loy Senior Moment

    My 14' boat can be used in several configurations, some of which require registration. If under oars on most rivers and lakes, no, but if under power on some lakes or the Sound, yes. That is my understanding anyway. One of the main reasons I registered the boat though is so that the ID/SN is tied to me legally in case of theft.
    I've had the boat 14 years and only recently put the registration numbers and current tags on.
  16. isaacfab

    isaacfab Member

    I registered my drift boat (15') because I used an 8hp motor to crab with in the PS. Of course the only place I've ever been checked was the PS. I'd register if it's possible.