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Age Restrictions:

Persons less than 14 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft. No person less than 18 can rent a PWC.

No person born after September 30, 1980, may operate a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater unless he or she has in their possession a photographic identification and a boater safety identification card issued for successful completion of a NASBLA approved boating safety course. This law will be progressively phased in each year to include a larger segment of the boating population until October 1, 2001 when all persons 21 years of age or younger will be subject to this law.

Personal Flotation Devices:

Every child under 6 years of age must wear a USCG approved PFD on a vessel less than 26' while the vessel is underway.

PWC operators and passengers must wear an approved Type I, II, III or V PFD. Inflatable life jackets are prohibited when water skiing or operating a PWC.

Required PFDs must be readily accessible.

Speed Limits and Reckless Operation:

Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as "Idle Speed - No Wake" must operate at the minimum speed that will maintain steerageway.

Any vessel operating in a speed zone posted as "Slow Down - Minimum Wake" must operate fully off plane and completely settled in water. The vessel's wake must not be excessive nor create a hazard to other vessels.

Anyone who operates a vessel with a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property will be cited for reckless operation (a first-degree misdemeanor).

All operators are responsible for operating their vessel in a reasonable and prudent manner with regard for other vessel traffic, posted restrictions, in the presence of a diver-down flag, and other circumstances so as not to endanger other people or property. Failure to do so is considered careless operation.

A violation of the Federal Navigation Rules is also a violation of Florida law. Except in the event of an emergency, it is unlawful to moor or fasten to any lawfully placed navigation aid or regulatory marker.

Navigation Rules:

The State of Florida adopts and enforces all Federally mandated boating safety laws.

Every vessel operating in the State of Florida shall carry and use safety equipment in accordance with U. S. Coast Guard requirements as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations. Additionally, every vessel shall display the lights and shapes required by the navigation rules.

Diving and Snorkeling:

The size of divers-down flags displayed on vessels should be 20 inches by 24 inches, and a stiffener is required to keep the flag unfurled. Dive flags carried on floats may still be 12 by 12. Also, divers-down flags on vessels must be displayed so that the flag's visibility is not obstructed.

Divers shall attempt to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets and navigation channels. Vessels should stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down flag.

On all waters other than rivers, inlets or navigation channels, divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 300 feet of the divers-down flag ; vessel operators must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of 300 feet on these waters.

Vessels may approach within 300 feet in open water and 100 feet in rivers, inlets and navigation channels of a divers-down flag only at idle speed; approaching at higher speed is reckless operation.

Divers shall not, except in case of emergency, display the divers-down flag in an area which would constitute a navigational hazard.

Personal Watercraft:

Persons less than 14 years of age shall not operate a Personal Watercraft. You must be at least 18 to rent a PWC in Florida. PWCs may not be operated from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Each person on a Personal Watercraft (PWC) must wear a Coast Guard approved PFD (inflatables are prohibited). Additionally, the operator must wear a lanyard type cut off switch provided by the manufacturer which will shut off the PWC should the operator fall off.

The operator of a Personal Watercraft should operate in a reasonable and prudent manner. Manuevering a personal watercraft by weaving through congested traffic, jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably close, or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision is classified as reckless operation of a vessel (a first-degree misdemeanor).

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly allow a person under 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft (a second-degree misdemeanor).

Water Skiing:

The operator of a vessel towing someone on skies or another aquaplaning device must either have an observer, in addition to the operator, on board who is attendant to the actions of the skier or have and use a wide-angle rearview mirror.

No one may ski or aquaplane between the hours of 1/2 hour past sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

No one may water ski or use another aquaplaning device unless they are wearing a USCG approved type I, II, III or non-inflatable type V personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are prohibited.

No one may ski or use another aquaplaning device while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

The operator of a vessel towing a skier may not pull the skier close enough to a fixed object or another vessel that there is risk of collision.

Manatee Awareness:

Every boater within the State of Florida should be forever mindful of the endangered manatee. One should operate in a prudent manner in and around known manatee habitats and should be cognizant of, and obey, designated manatee zone areas.

Accident Reporting:

Any accident involving death, disappearance or personal injury, or damage greater than $500 must be reported. A "boating accident" includes, but is not limited to, capsizing, collision, foundering, flooding, fire, explosion and the disappearance of a vessel other than by theft. Accidents should be reported immediately. Report accidents by the quickest means possible to one of the following: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the sheriff of the county in which the accident occurred, or the police chief of the municipality in which the accident occurred, if applicable.

It is unlawful for any person operating a vessel involved in a boating accident to leave the scene without giving all possible aid to the involved persons and without reporting the accident to the proper authorities.

Boating While Intoxicated:

It is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. A vessel operator suspected of boating under the influence must submit to a sobriety test and a chemical test to determine blood or breath alcohol content.

In Florida, a vessel operator is presumed to be under the influence if their blood or breath alcohol content is at or above .08 percent.


All vessels operated on the waters of Florida must be registered and/or numbered in Florida, except as follows:

  • Vessels used exclusively on private lakes or ponds
  • Vessels owned by the Federal Government
  • Vessels used exclusively as life boats
  • Non-motor powered vessels
  • Vessels with a current number from another state or country temporarily using Florida waters. (Less than 90 consecutive days.)
  • Vessels newly purchased in Florida (less than 30 days

All registrations must be renewed each year in the birth month of the owner. Apply for your title and registration with the state tax collectors.

In addition, all vessels, except documented vessels and non-motor-powered vessels less than 16 feet, must be titled in Florida.

You will need to know your Hull I.D. number to title and register your boat. If you have a homemade boat, contact the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or your tax collector's office for a HIN.

Upon registration, you will be issued a certificate of number and a validation decal. The certificate must be on board whenever the boat is used. The boat's number must be properly displayed on both port and starboard side.


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida Marine Guide

Florida Boat Ramps

Local Tides


Denis Lussier - RealtorĀ®

600 Executive Center Drive
West Palm Beach | Florida | 33401

T 561 689 1670
F 561 478 4333


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