Boating Safety

Boat Registration — Be sure the current registration card is on board at all times and that the decal and current numbers are properly displayed on each side of the bow of your boat.

PFD — One PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or lifejacket is required for each person on board, plus one throwable flotation device per boat. Children under age 10 must wear a PFD while boating.

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Fire Extinguisher — Must be readily accessible for all boats with enclosed gas tanks.

Lights — Be sure all running lights are working and use them after sundown.

Towing Skiers — Boats towing skiers must have a wide angle mirror or an observer on board. It is illegal to ski or pull other devices during the hours between sunset and sunrise.

Jet Skis – No one under the age of 12 may operate a personal watercraft (jet ski). Ages 12-15 must meet new regulations: safety course, adult 18 or older present or direct supervision by adult 18 or older. (See special jet ski page.)

BUI — DO NOT operate any boat while under the influence. It is illegal and enforcement is strict.

Right-Of-Way — The boat on your right and all sailboats have the right-of-way. Boats towing skiers do not have the right-of-way unless they are on your right. Check the published Rules of the Road.

Wake — YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BOAT’S WAKE AND ANY DAMAGE IT MAY CAUSE. The responsibility and liability lies with the registered owner of the boat — not necessarily the operator of the boat. KEEP YOUR BOW DOWN by idling or staying on a full plane. If your boat is creating white water at the stern you are causing a wake. If your bow is riding high you are causing a wake. Take a look behind you occasionally and check your boat’s wake. Be considerate of your neighbors, stay out at least 100 feet from the end of docks, other boaters and blind points. Be particularly aware when pulling knee boards, tubes and other slow towing devices.
boating_safety2Idle Means NO WAKE — A number of places on the lake now require IDLE SPEED or NO WAKE. Idle speed means moving with engine’s idle only, with no advance on the accelerator — not just going slower. Many of the larger boats now on the lake, particularly deep-V hulls, make excessive wakes unless they are operated at true idle or on full plane.

Safety — Always keep your boat properly equipped and keep your equipment in good condition. Teach beginning and novice boat operators the rules while teaching the techniques.

Night Boating & Fishing — Check your lights before going out. Lights must be on whether you are running, drifting or anchored. Lights must be on at sundown — before dark and before sunup.

Golden Rule — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It always works!

Current Legislation Concerning the Operation of Personal Watercraft, (commonly called jet skis), in Georgia Waters

— Please inform your family and guests! —

Each person aboard a personal watercraft must wear a United States Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, Type 1, Type II, Type III or Type V, which is properly fitted and fastened.

No one under the age of 16 may operate a personal watercraft without meeting legal requirements.

A person age 12-15 may operate a jet ski ONLY if one of the following criteria is met:

  • Completion of a personal watercraft safety program which has been approved by the Department of Natural Resources, or;
  • Accompaniment by an adult, 18 years or older, or;
  • Under the direct supervision of an adult, 18 years or older, who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Direct supervision is defined as being within sight of and within 400 yards of a person who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which would constitute a violation of the law.

No person shall rent, lease, or let for hire a personal watercraft to any person under the age of 16 years.

It is unlawful for a person who has temporary or permanent responsibility of a child or ward to allow the child or ward to violate any of the requirements listed above.

No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state after sunset or before sunrise.

No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state unless the personal watercraft is equipped with a self circling device or a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch. If equipped with a self-circling device, such device must be fully operational. If equipped with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch the lanyard must be attached to the operator’s clothing, body or PFD.

No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, any vessel adrift, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area.

It is legal to tow a skier behind a personal watercraft ONLY if the personal watercraft is designed by the manufacturer to carry three or more persons. The skier must wear a ski belt, ski jacket, or a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device, properly fitted and fastened. A competent observer other than the operator must be aboard the personal watercraft. A wide-angle mirror cannot be used in place of an observer to tow a skier behind a personal watercraft.

A personal watercraft is considered a Class A vessel. Therefore, requirements concerning registration of vessels applies to personal watercraft. The requirement for fire extinguishers applies to personal watercraft also.

To report any incident related to boating safety or law enforcement involving boating call the Law Enforcement Division of the Georgia Department Of Natural Resources at 770-535-5499.