In honor of National Safe Boating Week, we want to share some laws, tips, and additional resources on Boating Safety.
Know Georgia Boating Laws:
One of the most important "rules of the road" is the 100 foot law which includes all boats, not just personal watercraft (such as Jet Skis or Sea Doos), and requires boat operators to slow to idle speed when they are within 100 feet of docks, piers, bridges, shorelines or people in the water. The 100-foot law states, "No person shall operate any vessel or tow a person or persons on water skis, an aquaplane, a surfboard, or any similar device on the waters of this state at a speed greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel which is moored, anchored, or adrift outside normal traffic channels, or any wharf, dock, pier, piling, bridge structure or abutment, person in the water, or shoreline adjacent to a full-time or part-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area."
This means that it is illegal to jump the wake of another boat within 100 feet and to "buzz" other boats, vessels cannot operate around or within 100 feet of another vessel faster than idle speed unless it is overtaking or meeting the other vessel in compliance with the rules of the road for boat operation and makes it illegal for boat operators to follow closely behind another vessel, jump the wake of another vessel, or change or reverse their course of direction in order to ride or jump in the wake of another vessel.
Other "rules of the road" for boat operation include:
- When meeting another vessel, boat operators should pass on the right side (just like in a car) unless the boats are far enough apart that they are not meeting head on or close to head on.
- On narrow rivers and streams, stay as far right as possible and be careful when rounding bends and curves and overtaking or passing other boats.
- In a crossing situation, the boat on the right should hold its course and the boat on the left should slow down and cross behind the other boat.
- Powerboats always should yield to sailboats.
All Georgia Boating Laws are under O.C.G.A. Title 52, Chapter 7
Boating Safety Tips:
Beware of the weather- check local weather conditions prior to departing.
Follow a pre-departure checklist- (Items to include on checklist)
- Life jackets
- Lifesling or throwable flotation
- Horn or sound-producing device as required
- Fire extinguishers:
- Flares or other Visual Distress Signals
- First Aid/ Medical Kit
- Basic toolbox (boat-appropriate tools)
- Spare Fuel
- Water Proof Box
- Dock Fenders or Bumpers
- Dock Lines
- Spare Trailer Lights and Fuses
- Cellphone/Marine Radio
- Non-perishable snacks
Have an assistant skipper- Ensure that more than one person on board knows how to handle and operation the boat in the even the driver is injured or incapacitated in anyway.
Use life jackets properly- ensure everyone on board is assigned a life jacket that fits properly.
Use common sense- Use your common sense when operating your vessel. Maintain safe speeds and pay close attention to things going on inside the boat as well as outside.