Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary would come out to your boat and perform a free safety check? I didn't until my friend and fellow cruiser Doug clued me in when I was in Brunswick.
The safety check is basically an inspection of your boat to see that it is in compliance with all the coast guard rules. Since this is an inspection designed to help people be in compliance, there are no penalties for any discrepancies...unlike if the Coast Guard stops you and finds a problem while you are out on the water.
So, I decided to get an inspection done before I left Brunswick. Requested the inspection online here. The next day had several USCG auxiliary members contact me offering to do the check and scheduling the check was painless. The inspector arrived and performed the inspection and it took maybe an hour or so. He went through and checked for all the needed safety equipment (fire extinguishers, flares, horn, lights, life jackets, placards, etc.), checked the vessel hull ID and USCG documentation number, checked to make sure our sanitation systems were in compliance (overboard valves wired shut), and gave me some tips and hints on a variety of subjects including the upcoming trip north.
The boat passed, and I was awarded my safety inspection sticker.
I don't know if it is true, but I've heard that the USCG may be less likely to stop you on the water, board your boat and perform an inspection if they see a current sticker on your boat. In addition to knowing you are in compliance and not likely to be faced with a fine if you are boarded and inspected, having the sticker may save you some time and hassle by not getting stopped for inspection as often.
So, for free, it seems like a pretty good thing to do. I'll certainly continue to have them done just to make sure I'm in compliance and safe on the water.