Chapter 4: The Legal Requirements of Boating
Requirements Specific to Personal Watercraft (PWCs)
In addition to adhering to all boating laws, personal watercraft
(PWC) operators have requirements specific to their vessel.
Towing a Person With
a Vessel Legally
In addition to adhering to laws as they apply to all vessels,
operators towing a person(s) using a parasail or on water skis,
a surfboard, or a similar device must obey these laws.
- Each person being towed must wear a U.S.
Coast Guard–approved personal flotation device.
- It is illegal for a vessel to tow a person(s) on water skis,
a surfboard, a parasail, or a similar device unless one of the
following conditions is met.
- A person at least 8 years old, in addition to the vessel
operator, is on board observing the towed person(s) or …
- The vessel is equipped with an approved rearview mirror
or mirrors so that the operator of the vessel can observe
the progress of the person(s) being towed while facing forward.
- If the vessel is not a personal watercraft, one wide-angle
convex rearview mirror must be installed.
- If the vessel is a personal watercraft, two wide-angle
convex rearview mirrors must be installed.
- Persons being towed are considered passengers of the towing vessel. Vessels towing water-skiers or participating in a similar activity must be able to retrieve all persons being towed safely without exceeding the recommended capacity.
- It is illegal to operate a personal watercraft or similar device
capable of being remote-controlled by the skier unless such device
is factory-equipped with an ignition safety switch capable of
shutting off the engine in the event the skier becomes detached
from the personal watercraft device.
- It is illegal for vessels to tow skiers or surfboards, parasails,
or any device of this type between sunset and sunrise or when
visibility is restricted so as to endanger life or property.
- Vessels towing water-skiers or participating in a similar activity
must operate in a careful and prudent manner. 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.