Before setting foot in your boat, it’s important to understand the federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding boating. These vary from region to region, so research on your part is absolutely necessary. That being said, some of the more basic boating rules are more or less the same wherever you go; so we encourage you to check out the information below as a starting point.
- Boating Licenses. Most states require boaters to complete an officially certified course on boating, after which they are awarded a boating license. These licenses are respected nationwide (i.e. if you have a New York boating license and take a vacation in South Carolina your New York license will be sufficient.) Contact the United States Coast Guard for more information on obtaining a license in your area.
- Boating and alcohol. It is illegal to operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and penalties include loss of boating license and even DUI persecution.
- Lighting: All boats should be equipped with the proper lighting in order to operate after dark.
- Swimmers, Skiers, Water tubers, and passengers. It is illegal to operate with 150 of a swimming area. Boats that must operate near swimmers, skiers, tubers, etc. must operate at an idling speed. It is illegal to tow skiers and tubers at night. It is illegal to operate with an oversized load (i.e. more weight than the boat was intended to carry,) and illegal to operate while passengers are in places that permit a risk for falling overboard.
- It is illegal to operate at a speed that, given water/weather conditions, presents a risk to your own boat or to other vessels on the water. Varying local speed limits also apply.
While the above list is only a guide and should not be construed as legal advice, it should help give you a basic idea of what aspects of boating law you might wish to research. Beacon Watch is committed to promoting safe boating practices, which is why we encourage awareness of all boating laws and regulations. If you’re serious about boating safety, check out our online store for the next generation of boating safety equipment.