Boating Basics Online - Basic Boating Safety Course
Chapter 9 - Other Water Activities

Personal Watercraft

A personal watercraft.A Personal Watercraft (PWC) is defined as a vessel that uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as the primary source of motive power, and which is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel, rather than the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.

It is not a toy. If you operate one, you have the responsibility of knowing and obeying boating regulations and practicing boating safety. Approximately 30% of all injuries from boating accidents were attributed to the use of personal watercraft.

The U. S. Coast Guard classifies PWCs as inboard boats. That means personal watercraft are subject to the same rules and requirements as any other powerboat plus additional requirements specific to PWCs.

In addition to the general regulations in effect for motorboats, PWC owners must also be aware that there are local laws and ordinances around the country that further restrict PWC operations. They include age of the operator, hours of operation, special no wake zone provisions, assigned operating areas and restrictions, and speed and distance limits.

Make certain you know the laws that apply to you in your area of operation. For example, some states prohibit wake jumping or require no-wake speed when within 100 feet of the shoreline. Because PWCs are not equipped with navigation lights, operation is prohibited at night and during times of restricted visibility.

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