Wildwood Lake, Wolverine, Michigan
Michigan Boating Laws
 
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Who May Operate a Boat

Those less than 12 years of age:

  • May operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower (hp) legally without restrictions.
  • May operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 hp but no more than 35 hp legally only if they:
    • Have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat and...
    • Are directly supervised on board by a person at least 16 years of age.
  • May not operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 35 hp legally under any conditions.

Those born on or after July 1, 1996, may operate a boat legally only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat.

Those born before July 1, 1996, may operate a boat legally without restrictions.

Who May Operate a Personal Watercraft (PWC)

Those less than 14 years of age may not legally operate a PWC.

Those 14 and 15 years of age may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate and...

  • He or she is accompanied on board by his or her parent or legal guardian or by a person as least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian or...
  • He or she is operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from his or her parent or legal guardian or from a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian.

Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.

Those born on or before December 31, 1978, may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.

Search for a Boating Safety Class in your area.

Search for a Boating Safety Class in your area from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 18.
The Auxiliary teaches the Michigan DNR Boat Michigan approved basic boating safety course. We also offer an 8 hour About Boating Safety Class which is Michigan and NASBLA approved, and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. Upon successful completion of either class students will be issued a boating safety certificate.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety courses provide instruction to boaters at all levels, from the fundamental to the advanced courses for experienced boaters. Our classes are taught by experienced and knowledgeable instructors committed to the highest standards of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Find out more information about boating in Michigan.

The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities

Michigan now offers two online boating safety classes and Exam:
BoatEd.com and BoaterExam.com



BOATING TIPS 

How To Avoid A Boat Launch Accident

By: GottaHaveIt

Break Studios Contributing Writer

 - Knowing how to avoid a boat launch accident is the start of a safe, fun boat trip. Trailered boats do run the risk of boat launch accidents each time they're on the boat ramp but, with a bit of caution and some boat launch knowledge, you can have that boat in the water and be motoring out in no time.-Avoid a boat sinking accident by making sure that the boat plug is securely in place before you put the boat in the water. There's nothing quite like watching your small skiff start to sink the moment it hits the water.-Knowing how to back up the trailer is critical in avoiding a boat launch accident. It might seem counterintuitive but the boat trailer will turn opposite of the truck. That is, if you want the trailer to go right, you must turn your car or truck to the left. Straightening out the truck and trailer before you reach the bottom of the boat ramp will help you avoid making sharp corrections. -To avoid an accident, make sure that you pay attention to where your truck is while backing the boat down the ramp. It's very easy to get so caught up in maneuvering the trailer that you clip another boat or truck with your own vehicle.If you have someone helping you back up the trailer, make sure they are aware of where the trailer tires are once in the water. Most boat ramps are slippery with algae so it's very easy to lose footing and have the boat trailer run over a foot. Also, make sure your helper is never behind the boat trailer.-If you have to get out of the truck at the boat ramp, make sure to put on the emergency brake.  Avoid an accident by turning the back of your front tire so it is facing the nearest curb of the boat ramp. If the emergency brake should fail, the truck will roll back into the curb which will, hopefully, stop the truck.-Once you've launched your boat, move it carefully aside to a secure mooring until the truck and trailer are stowed. Boat launch accidents will most commonly occur at the boat ramp as there will be a lot of traffic with other boaters coming and going. Avoid an accident by getting the boat out of the way as quickly as possible. Watch the back of your boat carefully if you have to back off of the boat ramp as there will be a good chance that another boat may be coming in. 

How To Launch Boat From A Trailer

By: GottaHaveIt

Break Studios Contributing Writer

 -Learning how to launch a boat from a trailer may take a bit of time but it's not hard once you get the hang of it. There are some skills involved but almost anyone with a driver's license should be able to easily learn how to launch a boat from a trailer. A critical part of launching a boat from a trailer is learning how to back the trailer up. You're going to have to be able to turn your vehicle around with the trailer attached. The best place to practice this skill is a large parking lot. Figuring out how to maneuver the trailer may take some time. It's key to remember that the trailer backs opposite of the car. What this means is that, if you want the trailer to go right, you have to turn the car to the left. Dyslexic people will be ahead of the crowd on this one.-Untie the back of the boat before launching. Make sure your boat's drain plug is secure. There's no sense launching a sinking boat...-Pull the truck up to the boat ramp and turn it around so that the boat is facing the water. The straighter you can place the truck and trailer, the better. -Back up the truck so that the boat and trailer are approximately in the middle of the boat ramp. Different boat ramps have different launch angles so proceed slowly or you might find the back of your truck too far in the water. If you have problems seeing the boat ramp and your truck has a back door, open the door so you can see better.-Back up enough so that the back of the boat floats off the trailer. It's easiest to have a pal along to direct you when you're far enough back.-Release the stern of  the boat from the wench by unlocking the rachet and rolling the boat back. Push slightly to release the boat from the trailer.-Either start the motor or walk the boat through shallow water to a secure spot where you can tie it up so you can move the car. Here's another handy spot to have a pal along as they can park the car and trailer while you secure the boat.Warning:Boat ramps can be quite slippery with algae buildup so it's best to wear shoes with a gripping sole.