We just took delivery of the dinghy for our Nordhavn 52, an AB 12 VST with a 40HP Honda outboard. We’d ordered it a while back, and weren’t planning to take delivery at least until commissioning on the Nordhavn had started later this year. But we thought it would an efficient way to run back and forth between our winter moorage at Bell Harbor Marina, and Elliott Bay Marina, where Emerald Harbor Marine will be commissioning the boat. The two marinas aren’t that far apart (map of area), and, having sold the car, we’d been biking back and forth this past year without much trouble. But the bike trip does take time, and can be a uncomfortable in the rain. And Seattle does get the occasional winter storm. :)
The new dinghy is a real step up from our old 9-foot West Marine RIB with its 8 HP motor. The high seat back on the center console is very comfortable, and the deep-V hull and raised tubes make for a smooth, dry ride, even in near 30-knot winds. We can run between the marinas in less than 10 minutes, and there’s plenty of room for dive gear, or our bicycles on board. For now it will live behind our current boat at Bell Harbor until we mount it on the boat deck of the Nordhavn. It will be a tight fit—we’ve had removable rails installed along the starboard side of the boat deck to make that more workable.
We hadn’t needed a separate registration for our current dingy—we’d instead just numbered it with our main boat’s registration number appended with a “1”. Our current boat isn’t documented (partly because we weren’t US Citizens at the time we purchased it). But the new boat would be documented, and we weren’t sure what the impact would be, since documented vessels don’t display state registration numbers.
According to the USCG, “documentation of your vessel does not cover the vessel’s tender or dinghy. These craft fall within the jurisdiction of the motorboat numbering laws of the state of principal use. Please contact your state agency that handles the registration or numbering of motorboats for further information.”
The new one, it turned out, would need to be registered separately. To be exempt from registration in Washington State, under RCW 88.02.030, the vessel must be:
- equipped with a motor less than 10 HP;
- owned by the owner of a vessel for which a valid vessel number has been issued;
- display the number of that numbered vessel followed by the suffix “1” in the manner prescribed by the department; and
- be used as a tender for direct transportation between that vessel and the shore and for no other purpose;
Even if the motor was less than 10HP, that direct transportation clause was a concern. In researching the registration requirements, we’d read about the Coast Guard questioning folks who were simply touring around in the dinghy and not using it for direct transport between the vessel and shore. And while out in the dingy near Point Defiance this summer, the Tacoma Police stopped us to verify the dinghy’s registration and confirm that we had all the required safety systems on board, including lifejackets and a whistle. It’s apparently a $280 fine not to not have the vessel properly registered, and they seemed eager to enforce it.
Because the new dinghy is less than 16 feet long, we didn’t have to pay the Watercraft Excise Tax, and the total bill was less than $40. The adhesive numbers we’d bought for the current dinghy hadn’t lasted well, so we are instead going to try this number plate system to display the registration.