Carrying up-to-date Subchapter M documentation will eventually become second nature to U.S. mariners.

When a cop pulls you over, you know to get your license, registration and proof of insurance ready for inspection. That’s the analogy that maintenance management consultant Hank Kocevar of Alidade MER Inc. used to explain where the Coast Guard would like the workboat industry to be once the implementation process of Subchapter M is completed. Kocevar spoke at today’s WorkBoat Maintenance & Repair Conference & Expo in New Orleans, which runs through Thursday.

“When I was in the Coast Guard we did the same kind of thing. We’d look at a boat to see if, first thing, it looked in good repair,” he said. “Don’t draw attention to yourself. Keep it clean and decluttered.”

Subchapter M is the Coast Guard’s mandatory inspection requirements to bring thousands of uninspected vessels under compliance. The estimated publication date for the final rule is now this summer.

What boat owners have to do is start now to bring their boats into compliance. “The proposed rules are there,” said Kocevar. “Make sure you’ve got the things they’re going to be looking for ready to go.” Just like you have your license, registration and proof of insurance with you when you drive.

He said to make sure you fill in the gaps between the current state of the boat and the proposed Subchapter M compliance state. “Develop and execute a plan to close the gaps,” Kocevar said.

Alidade’s president, Tom Moriarty, also spoke about beginning to put a plan together now instead of waiting for the final rule to come out. “Develop a set of spreadsheets that you can update periodically,” he said. “You want to develop a process to check each section” of the individual requirements. “Stay in compliance so you can show inspectors that ‘we have a plan here.’ ”

Moriarty said that once owners are in compliance, “my guess is that your insurance will go down, but I have no data to support that. Seems like that’s what usually happens.”

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.