Travel responsibly on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.
- Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.
- Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
- Always operate your boat at a safe speed.
- Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects, divers, and swimmers.
- Never jump or ride close to a wake.
- If crossing a wake, cross at lower speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towables.
- Comply with all signs and barriers. This includes speed limits, no-wake zones, and underwater obstructions, etc.
- Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.
- Make certain your trailer is in proper working order and that your lights work.
- Secure your boat on the trailer before you travel to your destination.
- When traveling with your boat, balance your load, including items stowed inside your boat.
Respect the rights of others including anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and others to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.
- Be courteous to other boaters while in boat ramp areas. Launch and retrieve your boat as quickly and as safe as possible.
- Show consideration to all recreationists on and around the waters.
- Keep the noise down—especially around shore.
- If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
Educate yourself by learning rules and regulations, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes, and knowing how to use and operate your equipment safely.
- Obtain charts of your destination and determine which areas are open to your type of boat. Make a realistic plan, and stick to it.
- Always tell someone of your travel plans and file a float plan. Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements.
- Check the weather forecast for your destination. Plan clothing, equipment, and supplies accordingly.
- Make sure you have enough fuel and oil for the entire trip.
- Make sure your owner’s manual and registration is on board in waterproof containers.
- Always carry a Coast Guard approved working fire extinguisher.
- Know your limitations. Apply sunscreen, drink lots of water, and watch your energy level.
- Prepare for the unexpected by packing necessary emergency items, such as a first aid kit.
- Know distress signals and warning symbols.
- Take a boater education course to learn more about navigating waterways and safe and enjoyable boating.
- Make sure your boat is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies, and a spill kit.
Avoid sensitive areas and operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.
- Always launch at a designated boat ramp.
- Backing a vehicle on a riverbank or lakeshore can damage the area and leads to erosion.
- Always travel slowly in shallow waters and avoid boating in water less than 2½ feet deep.
- Slow down near the shoreline. High speeds near shorelines leads to large wakes which cause shoreline erosion.
- Sensitive areas to avoid include national parks, seasonal nesting areas and/or breeding areas.
- Avoid disturbing historical, archeological, and paleontological sites.
- Avoid “spooking” wildlife you encounter and keep your distance.
- Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated Wilderness.
Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of fuel, oil and waste, avoiding the spread of invasive species, restoring degraded areas, and joining a local enthusiast organization.
- When fueling your boat take every precaution not to spill into the water.
- Be prepared, carry a spill kit which includes absorbent pads, socks, and booms.
- Use a fuel collar or bib when fueling to catch drips and overflow and prevent backsplash.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- Carry a trash bag and pick up litter left by others.
- Observe proper sanitary waste disposal or pack your waste out.
- Following a trip wash your gear, watercraft, and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
- Make sure to remove all plant material from watercraft, motor, trailer, and other gear and dispose on dry land in a garbage container.
- Drain live wells, bilge water, and transom wells at the boat launch prior to leaving.
Follow these easy steps to make your journey more enjoyable, for everyone. Remember when you educate yourself, educate others and we can all make a difference and achieve safe boating.