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Jul 25, 2016

Lots of boaters have three-foot-itis — the need to get just a little bigger boat.

Over time, that condition might cause you to get a pretty sizable boat. If you happened to crack the 12-meter length (about 39 feet) there are suddenly some legal requirements that smaller boats don't have.

One of them is the USCG requirement that you carry a copy of the Navigation Rules (also known as the COLREGS). The law actually says this: the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules. Hopefully, the owners of boats 39 feet and over already know this. But what they might not know is that now, the USCG allows electronic copies to be carried if you don't want to have an actual hard copy aboard.

But there are two caveats:

                                    1.  A digital copy has to be corrected to the latest notice to mariners and

                                    2.  it must be readily available.

The unwritten rule of thumb for readily available is that you can get to the Rules within two minutes.

You can find the newest electronic version at