Safety on the Water

Be safe. Be smart. Avoid fines by knowing the rules.

We share the waters. Following the rules and being considerate of others mean a good and safe summer on the lake for everyone.

When there is high water, please remember that large waves can do a lot of damage to the shoreline. Reduce your speed when you are near the shore or in the channels.

Life Jacket Requirements: Minnesota law requires a life jacket to be worn by children less than 10 years old when aboard any watercraft while underway.

On all boats (except a sailboard), there must be a readily accessible Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III or V wearable life jacket for each person on board.

On boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks,) there must also be at least one Coast Guard approved Type IV throwable device, such as a buoyant cushion or ring buoy immediately available.

Water Skiing: It is unlawful to tow a person on water skis unless there is a mirror providing the operator a wide field of vision to the rear, or unless another person in the towing watercraft is continuously watching the person being towed.

Water skiing and similar acts are prohibited between one hour after sunset to sunrise of the following day.

Passing: When overtaking another boat going in the same direction, the craft being overtaken must maintain course and speed. The passing watercraft must keep a sufficient distance to avoid collision or endangering the other craft from its wake.

Meeting: When two watercraft approach each other “head-on,” each must alter course to the right to avoid collision. If the two watercraft are far enough to the left of each other, no change in direction is needed for safe passage. Both watercraft will maintain their course and speed so as to pass clear of each other, and keep to the right in narrow channels.

Crossing: If two watercraft approach each other at a right angle, the watercraft to the right shall have the right-of-way.

Non-motorized craft such as sailboats, and canoes have the right-of-way over motorized craft in all situations, except when the non-motorized is overtaking or passing.

Personal watercraft (jet skies) must travel at slow no wake speed (5 mph or less) within 150 feet of non-motorized boats, the shore (unless launching or landings) docks, swim rafts, swimmers, or any moored or anchored boat.

Note that this means when going through any of the channels on either lake, speed should be at no wake.

Operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to 1 hour before sunset.

Personal watercraft noise complaints are one of the most common types of calls received by water safety officials. The way that some people operate their machines causes a great deal of concern among other people on lakes.

Some personal watercraft riders tend to run their machines for long periods of time in a relatively small area. Many neighbors find that having to listen to one or more water scooters buzzing around for several hours in front of their property is very disturbing.

In fact, the problem became so severe on one Minnesota lake, local authorities banned personal watercraft operation for more than 30 minutes in one area. Jumping personal watercraft out of the water causes an increase in noise levels which can also be irritating to people.

Try to not operate in the same area for a long period of time. If you’re going to jump waves, do it far enough out in the lake so the noise won’t bother people trying to enjoy a day of quiet relaxation.


DNR Boating Guide
This guide summarizes Minnesota's boating laws and regulations

Personal Watercraft Laws