You do NOT - NOT - REPEAT NOT - even want to THINK about a nightmare like FAA oversight of your boat.
Do you REALLY want West Marine to have to get PMA approval and engineering sign-offs for every part they sell for every boat it might go in? So your old XYZ boat needs a fuel gauge? That will be $500 please. But it just like this $20 one! Sorry...no field approval unless you hire a DER to go down to the FSDO ...no can do.
I put a very nice navy surplus 4 point harness in a Cessna once. The FAA gave me a grounding notice and made me put the crap-tastic factory 3 point seatbelts back in :angry:/> Do you want THAT for your boat? Do you want to only have an *approved* GPS legal to use in fog that costs 20 times what the one you use now costs? The airplane version of AIS ( ADS-B ) has no "Class B" units for $500. They are all at Class A prices and then some.
The world of over 300 ton commercial shipping DOES have FAA like regulations and world of inspected passenger vessels has a subset of that. The professional mariner forums are full of posts angry at how the Bounty, despite in reality being a *ship*, wormed through, under, and around the regs to be run as a private yacht and escape nearly all oversight.
The second is particularly frustrating because the quality of marine work and gear is generally so low....you have to do it yourself if you want 'aircraft' standards (and its not because the marine work is cheap....we all know its not).
As a boat owner and a certified (not current) pilot (PP-ASEL) I get your point.
The way I see it, the FAA and regulations are completely and utterly necessary. They regulate the operation of machines that can *fall out of the sky* and land on things/people. If failure modes of aircraft (personal) were that they floated *up* and out into space, I think the FAA would mostly regulate commercial passenger aircraft.
That said, I don't think there is a need to heavily regulate personal boating like we do aircraft.
However, maritime operations that carry paying passengers? They are not regulated enough in my opinion. Sure, it will cost money but, running a cruise ship aground, stranding thousands of passengers in unhealthy conditions at sea, or holing a tanker and destroying an environment? All those carry high costs to either people or our environment. They deserve proper oversight and regulation.
I think someone else said that they wished cruise ships were as regulated as aircraft and that any cruise company operating out of US ports should be US flagged and subject to US regulations regarding safety. I can't say I disagree with that opinion.
But, aside from some basic USCG regulations and some basic boater safety requirements for recreational boaters? I think that's enough.
I know some segments of our population see *any* regulation as an infringement on our fundamental rights and interference by the government (that's us, folks). They are wrong in both scope and understanding of the corresponding *responsibility* that comes with freedom. It all comes down to risk to others. We, as a society, have a responsibility to self-regulate (through law if necessary) to ensure we are responsible and are held responsible for our actions. If we engage in an activity that has a significant chance of harming others should we prove incompetent or have poor judgment, then I see no problem with regulations.