Documenting a canoe with Coast Gaurd?

I bought a used Old Town Discovery 169 off of Craiglist a few years back. I want to put an electric trolling motor on it but came to realize my state (CA) requires that I register it. Yet, I have no title or even a bill of sale. I suppose there might be some time consuming bureaucratic way to get around that with the DMV but I’m wondering if it might be easier to document the canoe with the Coast Guard. The CG form asks for HP, so i guess I can put down 1/2 HP which I think roughly converts from 36 lbs thrust. Has anyone registered a canoe with the Coast Guard? Any thoughts or suggestions as to how to proceed?

I don’t think you can register a canoe with the USCG. Don’t think it meets the minimum measurement of five net tons. Unless its a mighty sturdy canoe.

Why not just make up a bill of sale for a nominal amount?

I had a similar situation last year and Old Town sent me a Statement of Origin with the serial number and model left blank. The SFO is what the original owner would have been given from the retailer and is usually filed with the initial state registration (although it is usually lost if the original owner does not register the boat). I sent the file to you on your Activity page. You will have to be creative with something like Microsoft Paint (insert text) and use your best judgment. The state bureaucracy sometimes forces us to take ‘shortcuts’. Always check the stolen boat databases before buying on Craigslist!

Interesting, I looked up CA’s rules figuring there would be an exemption for electric motors, and found there isn’t. Rules here:

But if you read these rules strictly that “Vessels propelled solely by oars or paddles” do not need to be registered, it sounds like the Hobie and other pedal powered boats would also need to be registered.