Motor Boat? Motor Vessel? 20 Meters, 65 Feet?

Determining whether you are over 20 meters or  over 65 feet.


If you are over 65 feet then the vessel is technically a "Motor Vessel". Title 46 Part 24.10-19  

As if all this stuff wasn't complicated enough, parts 24.10-17 and 19 refer to the difference being 65 feet, but most new regs including the Nav regs use 20 meters, which is 65.6 feet. I would hate to have to argue the six tenths of a foot. Until the language is fixed up, you should assume that if you are 65.6 feet or longer you are 20 meters. If you are in the gray area, just below 65.6 feet, you may argue that you are a motor boat, not a motor vessel(over 65.6), on the assumption that the 65 feet is going to "harmonized" with 20 meters. But, this may not save you.

In general the Motorboat Acts that were passed in 1940 and 1956 are the ones that apply to boats under 65 feet  and that there are additional requirements if the vessel is classed as a "motor vessel", rather than motor boat.

God help you if your vessel is 65.3 feet long! Frankly I would not argue the case for being a motor boat if you are 65 or just over and just under 20 meters until the language in the CFR's is changed.

Any regs coming out of the 1940 or 1956 acts refer to vessels under 65 feet. This means fire extinguishers but not anything else.

In practical terms, regulations concerning lights, bells and everything except fire extinguishers comes from acts which have all been written recently and use the 20 meter length. In which case you use the 20 meter (65.6 feet) length as the break point. But, if you are over 65 feet then you are a "Motor Vessel" and must comply with the regs for the fire extinguishers. Frankly, if your boat is over 65 I would treat it as if it was 65.6(20 meters) and not try to argue the point. Comply with all the regs for 20 meters for any vessel between 65.0 feet and 65.6 feet.


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