Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

It's the Law

Mufflers and Noise Level Limits


Vessel operators may not hear sound signals or voices if the engine is not adequately muffled.

The noise level of any motorized vessel must not exceed 86 decibels at a distance of 50 feet or more from the vessel.

The use of cutouts is prohibited.

It is illegal to modify the muffling system if it results in a noise level greater than the legal limit.

Requirements for Paddleboards and Other Paddlecraft

The USCG classifies paddleboards as vessels. All navigation laws apply to paddlecraft. The minimum requirements are:

  • A wearable PFD for each person on board
  • A sound-producing device, such as a whistle
  • A white navigation light ready at hand, which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision
  • Visual distress signals when used on federally controlled waters (not required in Tennessee)