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No person under 12 years of age may operate a motorboat, unless accompanied on-board and directly supervised by a competent person 18 years of age or older. Personal watercraft (PWC) users must still be at least 16 years of age in order to operate, with no exceptions.
Youth who are between 12 and 15 years of age must complete an approved basic boating course in order to operate a motorboat without adult supervision. Upon successful completion of such a course, students are issued a state "boating safety certificate" which must be in the possession of the certified operator when underway. Personal watercraft users who are 16 or 17 years of age must also complete such a boating course. Youth less than 16 years of age are not allowed to operate personal watercraft.
The operator of any motorboat involved in an accident which results in personal injury, death, or property damage (over $500) shall immediately notify the MA Environmental Police and file the appropriate accident report within the required time frame. (2 days-fatality; 5 days - all other accidents)
Most of the state equipment carriage requirements are similar to federal laws. This primary list includes life preservers, fire extinguishers, signaling devices, visual distress signals, and navigation lights. In Massachusetts, life preservers are required to be worn by: (1) youth less than 12 years of age (2) personal watercraft users (3) waterskiers (4) canoeists/kayakers from September 15 - May 15. A boat owner or a boat's operator is responsible to ensure that passengers on-board wear life preservers as required. Additionally, the state requires that all motorboats (with the exception of personal watercraft) be equipped with an anchor, manual bailer, and line. A paddle or an oar is required on boats less than 16 feet in length. Motorboats towing skiers must also be equipped with a boarding ladder. Registration and numbering of all boats powered by machinery is required.
The following types of operation are extremely unsafe and are prohibited:
Personal watercraft (PWC) are considered motorboats by law and must comply with all boating laws and navigation rules, including the speed and operation provisions above. Additionally, PWC users must adhere to state regulations specific to personal watercraft operation including:
You must not operate a PWC:
This is only a summary of boating laws. Boaters must know and observe all local, state, and federal laws. For further information on boating laws, boating education, or to obtain accident report forms contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police Boating Safety Bureau