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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.

Lanyard connecting the safety switch to the operator's wrist

PWC Flash animation

Be Part of the Action!

Learn more about operating a PWC with this interactive animation. (Most students will already have Flash installed. If not, follow this link to install the Flash Player.)

Towing 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, surfboards, or any device of this type must obey these laws.

  • It is illegal for vessels to tow persons on water skis, surfboards, or any device of this type between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise.
  • Every vessel towing a person(s) on water skis, a surfboard, or a similar device must have an observer on board, in addition to the vessel operator, who is 12 years of age or older and in a position to observe the skier(s).
  • Each person being towed behind a vessel on water skis, a surfboard, or other device must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jacket.
  • A reasonable distance from other vessels, people, and property must be maintained while towing so as not to endanger life or property. It is illegal to cause the towed device or person being towed to collide with any object or person.

PWC towing wakeboarder with an observer on board

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