Boating Laws

Please post these boating laws and regulations in your lake home. Take time to discuss them with your family, guests, and renters. Report violations to the Allegan County Marine Patrol 269-673-0438. In an emergency dial 911.

  • Non-motorized craft, i.e. sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, etc. have the right of way over powered watercraft (boats & PWC). Skiers must also yield right-of-way to non-motorized craft.
  • Operating powered watercraft, including personal watercraft (PWC) such as Jet Skis, Ski-Doos, Wave Runners, etc. at speeds which create a wake is restricted to the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily.
  • Personal watercraft (PWC) may not cross a wake within 150 feet of another vessel.
  • All powered watercraft must stay 100 feet, and preferably more, from fishing boats, sailing boats, swimming areas, docks, boat floats, buoys, rafts, and inhabited shores.
  • All powered watercraft including those pulling skiers, must travel in a counter-clockwise direction around the lake.
  • No powered watercraft may be operated in a reckless manner which endangers life, limb, or property.
  • All powered watercraft (boats and PWC) must have a legal operator and at least one competent observer (no dogs or children) to tow or pull water skiers, tubes, rafts, etc..
  • Persons less than 14 years of age may not legally operate a personal watercraft (PWC).
  • Persons 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 at 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.
  • Persons 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.
  • Persons less than 12 years of age may operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower (hp) legally without restrictions.
  • Persons less than 12 years of age 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.
  • Persons less than 12 years of age may not operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 35 hp legally under any conditions.
  • Persons 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.
  • Persons born before July 1, 1996, may operate a boat legally without restrictions.
  • A vessel operator who is required to have passed a boating safety course should carry this certificate on board.

These laws are listed in the Marine Safety Act. All boating laws and regulations will be enforced by the Marine Patrol of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department. There will be frequent patrols. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.