Prepare now for a safe boating season

Before hitting the water for the first time this spring, boaters should ensure their boats, equipment and safety items are in legal and proper working order, the Department of Natural Resources said. They should also review regulations in the 2018 Minnesota Boating Guide or at the boat and water regulations page.  

“With this year’s late ice-out, boaters are especially anxious to get on the water and start enjoying the boating season,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “After waiting all winter to get back on the water, no one wants to break down, get a ticket or have a safety emergency.”

In addition to making sure boats are equipped with required safety items, boaters should take extra precautions during the cold-water season, when more than 30 percent of Minnesota’s boating fatalities occur. While children younger than 10 years old must wear life jackets while aboard watercraft that are underway (i.e., not tied to a dock or anchored for swimming), boat and water safety officials recommend all boaters wear life jackets anytime they’re on cold water, no matter their age.

“Wearing a life jacket is an important part of staying safe when the water is cold during the spring,” Dugan said. “In the event of an unexpected fall or capsizing, having a life jacket on can make all the difference.”

Adult boaters who are resistant to wearing a typical life jacket should consider inflatable styles designed to make preventive use more convenient and comfortable.

Before the season’s first launch, boaters should verify their motorboats are equipped with the following:

  • U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jackets for each person on board.
  • Type IV throwable flotation device on boats 16 feet or longer.
  • Horn or whistle.
  • Type B U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
  • Navigation lights in working order.
  • Valid boat registration, with numbers visible.
  • Marine carbon monoxide detector in some boats.

Watercraft can be registered in person at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul. Registrations are good for three calendar years. Renewals can be done in person or online on the licenses and vehicle registration page.

More details, including boating safety tips and new laws, (among them Sophia’s Law and information on watercraft operator permit requirements) can be found in the boating guide at the boat and water regulations page.