NEW BOATS SPORT A LOT OF STICKERS. Some warn about the hazards of carbon monoxide, others remind you of the prohibi- tions on discharging waste or oil. But if you’re shopping for a new boat this spring, one to look for says “NMMA-Certified using ABYC standards.” Alphabet soup aside, this means that someone
with an enormously deep fund of knowledge about boatbuilding has inspected
this model of boat at different times during its building process and deemed it
built to standards developed by the industry to ensure a high degree of safety.
This past fall, BoatU.S. spent time with independent inspector Steve Carrier, who reports
to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), during a visit to Regal Boats in
Orlando, Florida, a boatbuilding company that has paid to go through the rigorous process
of NMMA certification.
Wait, areN’t iNspectioNs the coast Guard’s Job?
Unlike for cars or airplanes, there are relatively few federal regulations regarding the construction of boats. Sure, the Coast Guard has rules regarding flotation and stability, plus engine-ventilation requirements for gas inboards, but these have little to do with how a boat is built
and more to do with meeting minimal safety requirements. As a matter of fact, if your boat
measures longer than 20 feet and sports diesel power, there are virtually no federal regulations
that apply to its construction.
The federal government doesn’t dictate how far away a steering wheel should be from a
throttle lever, or how much of the view through a windshield can be obscured by supports,
or any of the dozens of other safety considerations. Boatbuilding is largely self-regulated.
WHAT “NMMA-CERTIFIED” REALLY MEANS
When shopping for a new boat, there’s one sticker that matters more than the rest. Here’s how
a boat earns the “NMMA-Certified” logo, and what it means to you by Michael Vatalaro
FEBRUARY | MARCH 2014 boatu.s. Magazine | 75
To ensure that boating
remains safe and enjoyable – and to make it
unnecessary for government to step in – the
boatbuilders had to
come up with an effective way to police themselves at a high standard.
Boats are paradoxical
vehicles in that, largely in
pursuit of pleasure and
at considerable expense,
we buy them in order to drive them into a
challenging environment. We take for granted that much of the responsibility for getting
safely home lies on our shoulders and on
our practice of good seamanship, and we put
our trust in our vessels that they won’t let us
down when we need them. The American
Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) strives to
make sure that a boat’s construction is not at
fault if something does not go according to
PRACTICAL BOATER | NEW BOATS
NMMa inspector steve carrier examines
the engine air intake of a boat under
construction (left). With the deck cap
off, backing plates can be examined for
hard-point attachments such as cleats.
on boats 26
feet and less,
look for the
NMMa-certified” logo on
have a separate “yacht