Skip to main content

Course Outline

Boat creating a wake

Pennsylvania law states that it is unlawful to operate a vessel in a reckless, negligent, or dangerous manner. The following dangerous operating practices are illegal.

Improper Speed or Distance 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, it is illegal to:

  • Operate at a rate of speed that endangers the life or property of any person.
  • Operate a vessel at greater than “slow, no wake speed” if within 100 feet of:
    • A shoreline
    • Docks or launch ramps
    • Swimmers, downed skiers, or persons wading in the water
    • Anchored, moored, or drifting boats or floats
  • Operate a boat less than 20 feet in length at greater than “slow, no wake speed” while a person is standing on or in the boat.
  • Cause a vessel to become airborne (leave the water completely) while crossing another vessel’s wake when within 100 feet of the vessel creating the wake.
  • Operate at faster than “slow, no wake speed” within 100 feet to the rear of or 50 feet to the side of another vessel that is underway (unless in a narrow channel).
  • Operate within 100 feet of anyone being towed behind another vessel.
  • Operate a motorboat at greater than “slow, no wake speed” with a person riding outside the passenger carrying area or while a person is riding on the bow decking, gunwales, transom, or motor cover.
  • Operate a motorboat at any speed with a person or persons sitting, riding, or hanging on a swim platform or swim ladder attached to the motorboat, except when launching, retrieving, docking, or anchoring the motorboat.
  • Operate a pontoon boat while a person is riding outside the passenger carrying area.
  • Weave your vessel through congested waterway traffic.

Improper Use of Docking Lights is using docking lights while underway. It is illegal to operate a boat using docking lights while underway, except when the boat is:

  • Docking and…
  • Traveling at “slow, no wake speed” and…
  • Operating within 100 feet while approaching a dock, mooring buoy, or shoreline.
  • Unit 4 of 6
  • Topic 3 of 19
  • Page 1 of 3