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Course Outline

Boat creating a wake

Massachusetts law designates the following dangerous operating practices as illegal.

Improper Speed or Distance is not maintaining a proper speed and/or distance while operating a vessel. Specifically, it is illegal to operate any vessel:

  • At a distance from other vessels or at a speed that exceeds safe and reasonable limits given the waterway traffic; marked speed limits; visibility; wind, water, and current conditions; and the proximity of navigational hazards
  • At greater than 45 miles per hour on any inland waters of Massachusetts, except on areas posted otherwise
  • Motorboats may not be operated:
    • Within 150 feet of shorelines used as swimming areas
    • Within 75 feet of floats or markers that designate swimming areas
  • At a rate of speed that creates a wake that causes damage, injury, or excessive rocking to other vessels, rafts, or floats
  • At more than headway speed under any of the following conditions:
    • From 150 to 300 feet of shorelines used as swimming areas
    • Within 150 feet of marinas, boat launching facilities, rafts, or floats
    • Within 150 feet of swimmers
    • Within 300 feet of a public access boat ramp
    • When vision is obscured by bridges, bends in the waterway, or any other reason
    • When operating in a channel, unless channel markers state that higher speeds are allowed
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