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It's the Law


In addition to the laws mentioned previously, here are some other New Hampshire regulations that apply when vessel operators are on the water.

Unlawful Operation


New Hampshire law states that these dangerous operating practices are illegal.

Failure to Follow the Navigational Rules is not observing the navigational rules described in Navigation Rules. In addition, it is unlawful to:

  • Fail to stop or reverse when it appears that there is danger of collision.
  • Change course suddenly without first determining that it can be done without crossing immediately ahead of another vessel.

Unsafe Passage is not maintaining a proper speed or distance while operating a vessel or while towing a person on water skis or any similar device. Specifically, the following operations are illegal.

  • Operating a vessel at greater than headway speed if within 150 feet of:
    • Swimmers in the water
    • Other vessels
    • Rafts or floats
    • Permitted swimming areas
    • Docks or mooring fields
    • The shoreline
  • Operating a vessel at greater than headway speed while passing under a bridge
  • Overtaking another vessel at a distance and speed such that your wake causes danger or damage

“Headway Speed” means the slowest speed at which it is still possible to maintain steering or 6 miles per hour.

Unsafe Wake Crossing is not maintaining contact between a vessel’s hull and the water when crossing a wake. It is illegal for a vessel to become airborne when crossing the wake of another vessel or its own wake.

Riding on the Bow, Gunwales, or Transom is allowing passengers to ride on a power-driven vessel in places where there may be a chance of falling overboard while underway. This includes passengers straddling the bow or riding on the gunwales or transom.

Overloading is loading the vessel with gear or passengers beyond its safe carrying capacity, taking into consideration weather and other operating conditions.

Speeding is exceeding speed limits or operating at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, taking into consideration weather and other operating conditions.

  • On Lake Winnipesaukee (located in Belknap and Carroll counties), the speed limits are:
    • 30 miles per hour maximum between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise
    • 45 miles per hour maximum at all other times
  • On Squam Lakes (located in Belknap, Carroll, and Grafton counties), the speed limits are:
    • 20 miles per hour maximum between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise
    • 40 miles per hour maximum at all other times
  • For more details on other speed limit restrictions, call the Marine Patrol at 1-877-642-9700.

Note: “Ski craft” (motorized vessels less than 13 feet long that are capable of exceeding 20 miles per hour and with capacity to carry no more than two persons) have additional regulations they must follow (see Requirements Specific to Ski Craft).

Boaters riding on the bow
It is illegal to ride on the bow or gunwales while the boat is moving.