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As we progress into the boat show season a lot of you will be attending a show and looking at new boats. I get a fair number of questions from folks considering a new boat purchase wondering what NMMA Certified means. Certified for what? Do they inspect every boat before it leaves the factory? How does it make the boat better?

OK, so let me answer those questions here. When a boat builder commits to the NMMA certification program they are stating that they will design and build their boat applying a lengthy list of American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) Standards. My primary employer is the ABYC and I can tell you that the ABYC Standards are comprehensive and constantly evolving and will help to eliminate safety related issues with any boat. Beyond that and sometimes hard to quantify, I can tell you that in my many years of experience working with the Standards both as a technician and in more recent years actually helping to develop the Standards, a boat built to ABYC Standards is a higher quality boat.

The NMMA certification process does not use every single one of the ABYC Standards, but it sure uses all of the important ones. The program has evolved. Just last week the NMMA added two new Standards to the requirements. Now all boats that get certified will need to have a galvanic isolator installed in their shore power system and if they are fueled with gasoline or have an LPG gas system installed, the boat will be required to have leak detection systems installed. This will enhance your on board safety if a problem with either of these systems develops.

Does NMMA inspect every boat that leaves the factory? No they do not. The program requires that the first boat of every new model run be inspected by a highly trained and qualified inspector to make sure that the design and finished product is in compliance with all of the applicable Standards. The assumption here is that the design and layout will follow this first boat through the model run and in truth with production boat builders, that is a fair and reasonable assumption.

How does this program make for a better boat? To answer that you need to understand the ABYC Standards development process, which is too lengthy to explain here in full. But, understand this, we develop and change Standards based in part on input from real-world situations. Problems get identified and Standards are created to counter these problems. As new technology evolves, new problems crop up and the development committees figure out ways to overcome these problems. That’s how in the end, you end up with a better boat.

So, as I said in yesterday’s post, check out the NMMA certification process by following this link: http://www.nmma.org/certification/

If you are looking at new or used boats built within the last few years look for the logo above on the boat somewhere. A boat built following ABYC Standards is a better boat that you are much less likely to have problems with! To learn more about the ABYC, follow this link: www.abycinc.org

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