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Safe at Sea: What is a boat’s H.I.N?

By PAT SCHMIDT - | Jan 5, 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard has requirements you — the boat captain — must meet. For example, last week’s column discussed the Maximum Capacity Plate required. Not only are these requirements in place for the safety of all passengers on your boat, some are meant to protect your vessel.

One safety standard that protects your boat is its Hull Identification Number, or H.I.N. Among other uses, manufacturers rely on the H.I.N. to locate boats involved in defect notifications and recalls.

You will find the H.I.N. near the top of the outboard starboard side of the transom or near the top outboard portion of the starboard hull near the stern. On catamarans and pontoon boats, it is near the starboard hull attachment. And like the V.I.N. in your car, it is illegal to alter or remove the H.I.N.

Interesting to know is that newer boats have a duplicate H.I.N. in an unexposed location inside your boat. This second location assists authorities in the identification of boats. A challenge: Try to locate the second V.I.N. on your boat!

Boats manufactured after 1972 — the vast majority of boats on the water today — must have a H.I.N. Not unlike the V.I.N. number on your car, the number consists of a series of 12 letters and/or numbers. The H.I.N. provides a surprising amount of information. (Important to note: The H.I.N. is not the same number as your state registration number displayed on the bow of your boat.)

A sample H.I.N. could be: ABC 12345 K9 K 9 99. The information it provides includes:

– ABC: Manufacturer or importer

– 12345: Hull serial number

– K9: Date of certification or manufacture

– K: Month (November)

– 9: Year (1999)

– 99: Boat’s model year corresponding to the model’s year of certification or manufacture

A second challenge: Locate your H.I.N. and then interpret its meaning!

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its boating education courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.