Chapter 4: The Legal Requirements of
Requirements Specific to Personal Watercraft (PWCs)
In addition to adhering to all boating
laws, personal watercraft (PWC) operators
have requirements specific to their vessel.
- Each person riding on or being towed
behind a PWC must wear a Type
I, II, or III U.S. Coast Guard–approved
PFD (life jacket) . It is recommended that those
on board a PWC wear PFDs designed to
withstand the impact of hitting the
water at high speed.
- PWCs should not be operated in a
manner that requires the operator to
swerve at the last possible moment
to avoid a collision. Furthermore,
a PWC should not jump the wake of
another vessel recklessly or unnecessarily
close to that vessel.
- It is illegal to operate a personal
watercraft while you are under the
influence of alcohol
- It is illegal to chase, harass, or
disturb wildlife with your PWC.
- It is also strongly recommended that:
In addition to the requirements above,
Mississippi Ordinance No. 16.003 states
that on marine waters south of Interstate
Highway 10 (I-10), PWCs:
- Must have a self-circling device
or lanyard-type ignition safety switch
with the lanyard attached to the operator’s
person, clothing, or PFD.
- Must not be operated at an excessive
speed within 100 feet of another occupied
vessel except in a crossing situation
or overtaking in accordance with the navigation
- May not jump, or attempt to
jump, the wake of
another vessel within 100 feet of that
- May not follow within 100 feet
of a water-skier.
a Person with a Vessel Legally
In addition to adhering to laws as they
apply to all vessels, operators towing
a person(s) on water skis, surfboard,
or a similar device must obey these laws.
- Every vessel towing a person(s)
on water skis, a surfboard, or a similar
device must have a person older than
10 years of age, in addition to the
vessel operator, observing the towed
person(s) at all times.
- A reasonable distance from other
vessels, people, and property must
be maintained so as not to endanger
life or property. It is illegal to
cause the person being towed to collide
with any object or person.
- It is illegal to be towed on water skis,
surfboard, or a similar device while
you are under the influence of alcohol
- If towing a person behind a personal
watercraft, the PWC must be rated for
three people—the operator, the
observer, and the retrieved skier.
- In addition, it is also strongly recommended
- All persons being towed behind a
vessel on water skis or any other device
wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved
PFD (this is required by law if towed
behind a PWC). Ski belts are not U.S.
- Persons be towed behind a vessel
on water skis or any other device only during