Responsibilities of a Vessel Operator
Responsibility to Others: Powerboats, sailboats, and personal watercraft (PWCs) offer many opportunities for their operators to enjoy the waters. Along with the enjoyment comes responsibilities—both to the passengers and to others who share the public waterways.
When you are operating a vessel, you have a responsibility to your passengers. Before departing, have a safety discussion with everyone on board. Emphasize that all passengers wear a PFD. You are also responsible when you let someone else drive your vessel. As the owner, you could be held liable for any damage caused by it, no matter who is driving at the time. Check that they meet the minimum age and boater education requirements
for operation in your state. Carefully explain all the important safety and operating points before allowing someone to operate your PWC or boat.
Responsibility to the Environment: While the effect of a single vessel on our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters may seem insignificant, multiply that impact by the millions of vessels on the waterways today. To preserve and protect the waters, wildlife, and aquatic vegetation enjoyed while boating, each person must be responsible. Keep waterways clean and disease-free by disposing of waste properly. Do not dump sewage into the water. Empty holding tanks only into pump-out stations. Properly dispose of trash on shore. Avoid using toxic substances on your vessel or around the water. Protect the shoreline from erosion, and preserve aquatic vegetation by reducing throttle to "no wake" speed when close to a shoreline or in small rivers. Also, don't operate in shallow water where your prop or pump intake can stir up bottom sediments and destroy aquatic plants.
Responsibility to Others Using the Waterways: As a vessel operator, you are just one of many who are enjoying the privilege of using the public waterways. It is your responsibility to stay aware of others in or on the water and to respect their use of the waterways. Remember that being a responsible operator includes controlling the noise of your boat or PWC.