Seeing as how my understanding of our legal system boils down to "Claiming that I didn't know won't get me off the hook", I decided to read up on boating regulations "just in case". My boating equipment consists of an inflatable raft and a clip-on sail kit, but something told me that putting one red pool float into the water may not be entirely without cost. As it turned out, I was right. The New Jersey Boating Safety Manual attempts to decipher the complex set of laws surrounding boat approval using a full-page dummy-compatible flowchart. According to this diagram I must register and title my boat for two reasons: It is over 12 feet long, and I plan to put a motor on it. (It also tells me that I must enroll in an 8 hour safety course, which I hope to take next weekend).
Regardless of how funny I may find the idea of going to the DMV to register a pool toy, I'd rather keep my dreams free of the haunting face of the Angry and Disapproving Boat Police man. I've never actually met a Boat Police man, but something tells me that his gaze will be both Angry and Disapproving, while the stares of the passing vessel operators are likely to be Curious and Condescending, as they on-look from the regal safety of their properly registered non-pool-floats. Thus I gathered my documents and my pride, and went out to the place they call the Department of Moro... (I try to forget how that acronym goes).
The first location I visited was less than welcoming - its state of discontinuity was such that even the power was turned off. I stood in silence within the largely abandoned strip mall, now visited only by the ghosts of Army/Navy recruiters that used to dwell within, then used my blackberry to discover that the new location is 20 minutes closer to my house, and so off I went back the way I came. The new location is a beautiful newly constructed glass building with 12 visible interior security cameras and one visible armed police man who also doubles as a receptionist. The DMV employee inspected my Certificate of Origin (which proudly states that the boat was made in Korea), my invoice, and my blank Bill of Sale (my bad), and declared that not only will I require an original signature on my Bill Of Sale, but that I must also show proof of import duties paid on this product of Korean ingenuity. I will freely admit that the Kaboat is a Korean-made product, but I'd add that I bought it from their US-based distributor (Boats To Go), in Florida. With my tail between my legs I retreated to the safety of my serene and bureaucracy-free house and attempted to acquire the missing documents from the sellers. In turn I was kindly told to get lost and tell the DMV to do the same - as there is no justification for requiring any such thing.
And so I took a second, and successful pass at government compliance. This time I equipped myself with carefully crafted and fully filled-out documentation, yet the DMV still contacted some external verification authority to validate the Korean importer and their honor. Apparently the company passed their scrutiny as I was shortly leaving with a title, a registration, and proof of paid tax, all for a measly sum of $109. I have a pool float with a title. To my surprise, this sum of money did not cover the cost of stick-on letters that take the place of a license plate on a boat, and I had to visit my favorite neighborhood Home Depot for a set of vinyl letters. In case there were any doubt, the letters do not stick well to inflatable and rough PVC hull material, and I'll most likely be painting them on or ordering a pre-printed panel that gets glued on.
Stick On Letters that are doomed to fall off
Update: The stickers fell off within a week, so I bought some Krylon plastic paint (in white) and some stencils... making a stencil template is surprisingly time-consuming. The paint still went on rather poorly, there was a lot of overspray where the stencils weren't flush. On top of that, it turned out that while the Krylon paint is meant for PVC, it is not meant for flexible PVC (I called Krylon to confirm). It will never dry, according to them - and it did remain quite sticky for about a month. To my surprise, it became less and less sticky as time went on, and even though I gave up and ordered a proper plate from boatnumberplate, I think I'll keep the paint if I can - at least I can always remove it with a little acetone.