Ohio's Sound Signal and Other Equipment Requirements

Sound Signal Equipment Requirements

A vessel of 12 meters (39.4 feet) or more in length shall be provided with a power whistle or power horn and a bell.

A vessel less than 12 meters in length shall not be obliged to carry the sound device described in the preceeding paragraph. However, the vessel must be provided with a means of making an efficient sound signal.

A vessel that is propelled by human muscular effort, a sailing vessel and a power driven- vessel less than 16 feet in length, when using waters other than Lake Eire, the Ohio River or the Muskingum River, shall not be obliged to carry the sound devices stipulated above or produce the sound signals prescribed in the Ohio Administrative Code.

Additional Equipment Requirements

Anchors

All boats must carry an anchor and line of sufficient weight and length to securely anchor the boat. It is illegal to operate a boat that is in violation of this section.

Exemptions:

  • Boats under 14 feet in length.
  • Human-powered watercraft.
  • Sailboats under 21 feet in length.

Distress Signals

When operating on federally controlled waters (Lake Erie or the immediately connecting bays, harbors and anchorage areas) it is illegal to operate or permit the operation of a boat that is:

  • 16 feet or more in length or any vessel carrying six or fewer passengers for hire without carrying Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals for both day and night use.
  • Operating between sunset and sunrise (unless carrying Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals for night use).

When operating on Ohio waters, not on federally controlled waters (waters other than Lake Erie or the connecting bays, harbors and anchorage areas) it is illegal to operate or permit the operation of a boat that is:

  • Operating without carrying a distress flag that is at least two square feet and international orange in color, or a Coast Guard-approved daytime distress signal.

Exemptions

Exemptions to the visual distress signal carriage requirement exist; however, on Lake Erie or the immediately connecting bays, harbors and anchorage areas, an exempted vessel must carry approved visual distress signals for night use between sunset and sunrise.

Exempted boats during daylight hours include:

  • Boats in an organized marine event or race.
  • Human-powered watercraft.
  • Non-motorized sailboats under 26 feet in length with completely open construction.

Duty of Owner to Provide Equipment

No person who lets vessels for hire, or the agent or employee thereof, shall rent, lease, or otherwise permit the use of the vessel, unless the person provides the equipment required under sections Chapter 1547 of the Ohio Revised Code and under rules adopted under the Ohio Administrative Code.