One of the many great things about the state of New York is the fact that it offers an abundant number of lakes and saltwater departure points for boating including the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, lakes in the Adirondacks, the Barge Canal, the Finger Lakes, and Great Lakes.
With summer approaching, personal watercraft and boating enthusiasts throughout the state will soon hit the water – some with reckless abandon – endangering both themselves and others.
While there may be nothing more exhilarating on a hot summer day than cutting across the water on your personal watercraft, keep in mind, other vessels – large and small – are also out there with you, looking to have a good time. Sitting or standing atop a watercraft packing the acceleration of a motorcycle can be risky, if you don’t follow a few basic rules.
New York boater education certificate required
First of all, if you reside in New York, you must have a boater education certificate or card to operate a motorized vessel, which means you can’t just have your driver’s license with you. The person operating the boat or personal watercraft must be at least 14 years old and have a valid license by taking the certification exam.
Otherwise, you must be accompanied, on board, by someone 18 years of age or older who is the holder of an approved boating safety certificate. Once you pass and pay the one-time fee, you’ll be ready for the water – well, almost.
Personal watercrafts are considered Class A vessels, which are subject to all the same laws as boats under 16 feet and must be registered with a validation sticker and registration number displayed on the vessel. Certification cards are required to be carried at all times when operating the personal watercraft or boat.
Furthermore, required equipment for personal watercraft includes:
- A Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard and anyone being towed.
- A Coast Guard-approved B-1 fire extinguisher.
- A sound signaling device such as a whistle or a horn.
- An emergency engine cutoff lanyard attached to the operator.
- A functioning backfire flame arrestor and passive ventilation system.
Now, all you need to do is review a few safety rules before you hop on and start zipping across the water. These are:
- Avoid rugged shorelines, rocky areas, and other vessels.
- Always watch for swimmers and other people in the water, such as water skiers.
- Always stay beyond 500 feet of a marked swim area.
- Familiarize yourself with the meaning of navigation marks and signs.
- Never ride your personal watercraft or drive a boat after consuming drugs or alcohol.
- Never carry more passengers than the vessel’s rating allows.
- Always give priority to large vessels, sailboats under sail and paddle craft.
- When meeting another craft head-on, steer to the right and pass like cars.
- Keep a safe speed at all times and don’t take any unnecessary risks to show off.
- Only operate your personal watercraft between sunrise and sunset.
Finally, be sure to have proper watercraft insurance on your aquatic toy or boat. If you’re shopping for New York watercraft insurance, bundle it with your auto insurance. You may get a discount on both.