Definition No definition of “Recreational Vessel” exists in the Seattle Municipal Code
The City of Seattle allows you to live aboard your vessel if it meets certain criteria. These vessels are NOT required to have a plaque nor do they need to be verified. Section 23.60A.214 of the Seattle Municipal Code refers to “Vessels Containing Dwelling Units” and “Other Vessels Containing Dwelling Units.” In this website, we refer to these (for clarity) as Recreational Vessels and Vessels Containing Dwelling Units or VDU’s, respectively. This information in this section refers to Recreational Vessels.
Although not specifically defined, in term of use as an on-water residence, the Seattle Municipal Code describes “Vessels Containing Dwelling Units” in the same section that describes “Other Vessels Containing Dwelling Units.” The city does not have a term, nor a definition of these vessels, but does provide a description in section 23.60A.214 of the Seattle Municipal Code;
a vessel that meets the definition for vessel in Section23.60A.942 may contain a dwelling unit if the vessel meets the following standards and is prohibited otherwise, except as allowed in subsection 23.60A.214.D:
1. Design. A vessel may be custom made or manufactured, and may be mono-hulled or multiple-hulled, and shall:
a. Be designed as a conventional recreational vessel exclusively of the types set out in this subsection 23.60A.214.B.1.a.1 through 23.60A.214.B.1.a.7 as follows:
- A sail boat, such as those manufactured by Catalina, Pacific Seacraft, Hunter, or Hinckley;
- A cabin cruiser, such as those manufactured by Bayliner or Chris-Craft;
- A trawler yacht, such as those manufactured by Grand Banks, Nordic, or Choy Lee;
- A tug, such as those manufactured by Nordic Tug or Ranger Tugs;
- A motor yacht cruiser, such as those manufactured by Bayliner, Sea Ray, and Carver;
- A multi-hulled power boat, such as those manufactured by World Cat; and
- A sport fishing boat, such as those manufactured by Glacier Bay, Grady White, and Boston Whaler; or
b. Be designed and used as a commercial vessel and be a United States Coast Guard certified working tugboat;
c. Be designed as a fishing vessel and have current fishing license issued by a federal or state commercial fishing regulatory agency; or
d. Be a registered military vessel used as a dwelling unit for the crew of a military vessel being repaired at the same location, if the military requires the crew to remain with the vessel.
2. The vessel is safely operable and operates under self-propulsion integrated into the hull and steering that is sufficient to reasonably move the vessel.
3. The vessel is moored at a recreational or commercial marina that complies with the standards set out in Section 23.60A.200.
Q: Am I allowed to live aboard my Recreational Vessel?
A: Yes, however, individual marinas may make their own regulations which may be more restrictive. Recreational Marinas are NOT required to allow you to live aboard your vessel, and the definition of what constitutes a living aboard may vary from marina to marina.
Q: Do I need to get a plaque for my Recreational Vessel?
A: No, a plaque is not required, nor do you need to verify your recreational vessel with the City of Seattle. Your vessel is still required to be registered with the State of Washington and you must pay your annual registration fees, even if you are not navigating your vessel.
Q: Can I pump my black water overboard?
A: NO, NO, NO. Do Not Do This EVER!