Safe Boating Guidelines

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

From a 300-foot freighter, to a small kayak, each person on board must have a personal flotation devices, or PFD:

  • On a boat 16 feet and over you must have a wearable PFD for each person on board.
  • On a boat less than 16 feet, you may have a wearable or throwable PFD.
  • The PFD must be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved.

Vessel Registration

  • Any vessel that has a motor of any type must have the registration numbers on each side of the forward half of the vessel and a current validation decal.
  • The vessel operator must also carry the vessels certificate of registration on board.

Navigation Lights

  • Navigation lights help you and other boaters determine which is the give-way vessel when encountering each other at night. These lights must be displayed from sunset to sunrise.
  • Any vessel with a motor must have sidelights, red on port, green on starboard, and a white light in the stern.
  • Non-powered vessels rowboats, canoes, kayaks must have a white light.

Fire Extinguishers

  • A vessel including PWCs must have a fire extinguisher if any of the following conditions exist.
  • Closed compartments under seat where portable fuel tanks may be stored.
  • Closed storage compartments in which flammable or combustible materials may be stored.
  • Closed living spaces
  • Double bottoms not sealed to the hull or which are not completely filled with flotation material.
  • Permanently installed fuel tanks.

Requirements Specific to Personal Watercraft (PWC)

  • Must have registration numbers and current validation decal along with the certificate of registration.
  • Each person onboard must have on a wearable PFD.
  • Must have a fire extinguisher.
  • The lanyard of a PWC’s ignition safety switch must be attached to the person.

Any person born after December 31, 1978 must have a boating safety certificate to operate a PWC.