Everyone who uses or enjoys the waterways of our country, whether boating, walking along the shoreline or actually living on the water’s edge has the same rights to enjoy the tranquillity of the water. Boaters should respect the rights of others who live or play on the shoreline. You should not disturb private property owners by docking at their docks or wharfs.

You should be careful about the amount of wake that you are leaving when operating close to shore. It may cause personal injury or damage. You are responsible for any damage you cause with your wake. Control your speed and obey speed limit signs.  

When operating around boaters who are fishing, take extra care to control your wake. People often stand up in their boat to cast or reel in a fish. Your wake could tip the boat and cause someone to fall overboard. Remember that you are legally responsible for the wake and any damage that it may cause. 


Control your waste

Pollution laws prohibit throwing garbage into the water. Carry bags aboard and dispose of waste and garbage properly. If you see refuse floating in the water, take the time to pick it up and dispose of it upon returning to shore. Many bodies of water have no-discharge regulations in effect. Check with state/local authorities regarding specific pollution regulations in effect in the area where you plan to boat.

Controlling boat noise

Part of being a courteous boater includes controlling your boat's noiseAll motorboats should be equipped with an efficient muffler, underwater exhaust or other device that adequately muffles or suppresses the engine's exhaust. No motorboat should be allowed to produce excessive or unusual noise, and no motor should be equipped with any cutout.

Controlling boat speed

All boaters should use caution and operate within the posted speed limits. You should also be aware that under certain conditions, including heavy traffic, low visibility or extreme weather, you must operate at a safe speed according to the conditions. Your wake may cause personal injury or damage.

Operator responsabilities

Reckless or negligent operation

It is the responsibility of the operator to refrain from careless, reckless, or negligent operations on the water. Failure to operate a boat in a safe manner could endanger the lives or property of other persons. Again, be courteous and exercise caution.

Use common sense. If it doesn’t make sense to do something on land, it probably doesn’t make sense to do it on the water. Would you ride on the hood or hang out of the window of a moving car? Of course not, that wouldn’t be safe. So don’t allow passengers to ride or sit on the bow, stern or sides of the boat while underway.

State and local regulations determine how close to shore, a swimming area or other vessels you can operate. You should be aware of, and obey, speed limits and no-wake zones. Check state/local laws for these regulations prior to boating on an unfamiliar body of water.

Back to Study guide