Boat and Water Safety

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Boat and Water Safety provides the public with safety information and education programs, and coordinates the efforts of other safety agencies and groups throughout the state. Minnesota Boating Guide updated every year, summarizes Minnesota's boating laws and regulations and should be mandatory reading for all boaters in the county.

Every time you are on the water, verify that you have all the required safety equipment for your watercraft type. It is also a good idea to check navigation lights to be certain they work properly before staying late on the water. We would recommend carrying the tools and parts you need on board to make minor repairs in times of need. Your safety is our number one concern.

If a Patrol Boat stops you on the water: Put your watercraft in neutral and maintain your course. The patrol boat will pull up alongside your boat and inform you of why you were stopped and conduct a safety check. In Minnesota, law enforcement must have a valid reason to stop you on the water.

Make sure your watercraft is properly registered and displays the required watercraft registration letters, numbers and/or stickers. Be sure to check the DNR Boating Guide for the exact specifications on labeling your registered watercraft. See Minnesota State Statute 86B.301.

Be sure to have your valid watercraft registration on board to show/hand to a patrol deputy if he/she requests to see it.

You are required to have a Personal Flotation Device, one per person, on board your watercraft… boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and even paddle boards. See Minnesota State Statute 86B.501.

If you have children under age 10 and your watercraft is underway (not anchored, docked, moored or beached), they must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) approved by the Coast Guard and sized for their weight on at all times. See Minnesota State Statute 86B.501 and also the Minnesota DNR web site for additional information.

Depending on the size and configuration of your watercraft, you may need to have certain required equipment on board, such as fire extinguishers, sound devices, Personal Flotation Devices (Type IV) that can be thrown, and Navigation Lighting. Minnesota State Statutes and Administrative Rules explain these rules.

A person may not ride or sit and a person may not operate a motorboat while a person is riding or sitting on (i) the starboard or port gunwales; (ii) the decking over the bow, sides, or stern; or (iii) the transom, of a motorboat while underway unless the motorboat is provided with adequate guards or railing to prevent passengers from falling overboard. Minnesota State Statute 86B.311 explains the law.

If you operate a Minnesota Registered Personal Watercraft (PWC), note you must be off the water no later than one hour before sunset. Get an updated sunset table in the back of the Minnesota Boating Guide.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators: A personal watercraft rules decal issued by the DNR needs to be on the craft in full view of the operator.

Minnesota DNR License Information - This site allows residents and nonresidents to purchase hunting and fishing licenses, safety certificates, passes, trail stickers, apply for hunting lotteries, enter harvest registration and renew ATVs, ORVs, OHMs, snowmobiles and boats.

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