From Datrex perspective, the USCG onboard safety equipment requirements for recreational vessels are too low and somewhat misunderstood! USCG and federal requirements are just a bare minimum!

Datrex has brought high quality safety equipment and services to the US market for almost 50 years and we believe in safety equipment that has the best potential to save your life. Numerous boaters have been saved with equipment we supplied and it ranges from fires, collisions, new vessels delaminating and disintegrating underway, extreme weather and groundings.

We recommend you understand the USCG requirements, but with that in mind plus our experience, we have put together a package that will improve your chances to survive dramatically.

USCG requires you to carry Type I, II, III and certain Type V’s for each person on your vessel.

In the event of an impact and the wearer becoming unconscious and being thrown overboard, most USCG types will not turn your head out of the water. The best types for rough and offshore conditions are the vest with the most amount of buoyancy. Type I’s and most Inflatable will provide you with higher buoyancy and are designed to turn you in water avoiding drowning due to unconsciousness.

Please remember, a thinner person with less BMI needs more buoyancy than someone who is heavier. Additional buoyancy is favorable in rough conditions due to the fact that it gives the wearer more freeboard, keeping their face higher above water/waves. Higher freeboard increase the survivability rate if rescue is not immediate.

Datrex recommends two types of high buoyancy for recreational boaters:


Type I is more cumbersome and most people will not wear this onboard or underway. Type II inflatable can be worn comfortably all the time. We suggest you wear your lifejacket underway in case you are thrown overboard.

We provide our Datrex Trident 150 with a whistle and a SOLAS grade water activated LED light. No one else offers this as a complimentary feature. The light will indicate your position with bright LED for plus 50 hours.

Throwable Cushion
According to USCG, each boat is required to have at least one Type IV throwable cushion. Most boaters will use this as a seat and usually the product succumbs to early deterioration.

We suggest our Datrex 20” Datrex lifering with a 100 ft ropebag. Not only it can be thrown in windy conditions toward a rescue and with a attached rope rescue but with attached rope it can retrieve the person in distress too. All of our liferings will last decades on board a vessel being exposed to the marine environment.

Many recreational boats have a fixed VHF onboard however many back country fisherman only rely on only a cell phone. If you have a “blackout” (loss of battery power) your stationary VHF will not work and a cell phone outside coverage with not help either.

To deal with this communication gap, we suggest the following two options:

Get a GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) handheld VHF radio with 5 year battery (no charging needed) and use in distress situation which will have a minimum of 8 hour talk time, it floats too in case you are in a sinking boat. Highly recommended for offshore use!
Get a basic handheld VHF for all boating applications including back country boaters. Make sure it floats and always have it fully charged prior to boating.

Currently there is no requirement from USCG to have a beacon onboard! Beacons work very effectively by sending your position via NOAA satellite to appropriate rescue organization. Once verified, rescue can be launched toward your coordinates in less than one hour. This alone increases your likelihood for a rescue versus drifting at sea or for USCG to have a massive search pattern.

Both EPIRB and PLB shall be registered every two years through NOAA website and the service is free. The process is very easy and you will receive a sticker to place on your device.

If you always use your own boat, get an EPIRB, mounted in a bracket and inform your crew members where it is and how to use it. The EPIRB should not be removed from the boat so there is less chance to forget it on land.

The personal EPIRB, also called PLB is a device registered to a person and you can take and use it anywhere. In boating, we recommend this to boaters who are fishing from small boats in the back country or offshore boaters who often go with friends on their boats. A PLB onboard will transmit with the same frequencies and signal strength as an EPIRB. The only disadvantage with a PLB is that it will not help you if you forgot to bring it onboard.

So in conclusion the main differences between a PLB and an EPIRB are:

EPIRB registered to a boat, floats upright, water-activated when out of its bracket floating, transmits for > 48 hours
PLB registered to a person, needs to be mounted to lifejacket or held upright, manual activation, does not have to float, transmits for > 24 hours

Visual Distress
Minimum requirements are three red handheld flares or an electronic distress light with a flag during daytime.

At Datrex we believe you need a combination of flares. Our basic flares are commercial grade and approved for offshore and international waters under USCG/SOLAS.

We recommend two red Ikaros Parachute rockets, 1000 ft altitude and 30000 candela for 40 sec (highly visible to aircrafts and other ships in day or night), three red Ikaros handflares which burn at 15000 candela for 60 sec (USCG requires 500 candela)

As you might know, marine pyrotechnics have expiration dates. At Datrex we sell with 42 months shelf-life and we will take back your old expired flares for disposal. WHEN YOU REPLACE THEM

Sound devices
The very minimum USCG requirement for a sound device is a whistle. You can also buy portable sound device and most boats have built-in horns already. Check your horn device regularly and before you next trip.

In addition, we include a whistle with a lanyard with any lifejacket we sell.

Fire extinguisher
The requirements are pretty straightforward but we suggest to get more capacity than it’s required as small fire extinguishers do not last very long and cannot extinguish larger fires.

Up to 26': One B-I size extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are not required on outboard-powered pleasure boats less than 26' in length, not carrying passengers for hire, without permanently-installed fuel tanks, that do not have spaces where explosive or flammable gasses or vapors can collect.
From 26' to 40': Two B-I extinguishers (or one B-II extinguisher)
From 40' to 65': three B-I extinguishers (or one B-I and one B-II)

For the offshore boaters, we suggest an inflatable life raft that can be the ultimate lifesaver in case you have to abandon your vessel.

Datrex Special Pricing:
Datrex Trident Inflatable Type II with light and whistle:
Datrex 400RTJ Foam Type I with light and whistle:
Datrex 20” lifering with 100ft ropebag
Jotron Handheld GMDSS VHF
Ocean Signal EPIRB1
Ocean Signal PLB1
Ikaros Parachute rocket red
Ikaros Handflare red
Datrex Liferafts, call for price on specials