The Handbook of Tennessee Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency - Web Version
Table of Contents
VDSs are not required on vessels on Tennessee waters.
Vessels on federally controlled waters must be equipped with visual distress signals that are U.S. Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition, and readily accessible.
All vessels, regardless of length or type, are required to carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise. Most vessels must carry day signals also; exceptions to the requirement for day signals are:
- Recreational vessels that are less than 16 feet in length
- Non-motorized open sailboats that are less than 26 feet in length
- Manually propelled vessels
If pyrotechnic VDSs are used, a minimum of three must be carried in the vessel. Also, pyrotechnic VDSs must be dated and may not be carried past their expiration date.
The following examples satisfy U.S. Coast Guard requirements:
- Three handheld red flares (day and night)
- Three orange smoke signals (day only) and one electric light (night only)
Pyrotechnic Visual Distress Signals
Non-Pyrotechnic Visual Distress Signals
Federally Controlled Waters
Vessels must observe federal requirements on these waters:
- Coastal waters
- The Great Lakes
- Territorial seas
- Waters which are two miles wide or wider and are connected directly to one of the above