LITTLE ROCK (AGFC)– With winter firmly in the rear-view mirror and spring just around the next turn, Arkansas boaters are in action on the state's lakes, rivers and streams.
As the days become even more inviting, boaters and fishermen will line up at boat ramps to enjoy lake and river outings. But to prevent a fine day on the water from turning into a miserable experience, some simple but important boating requirements must be followed.
- All boats with motors over 50 horsepower and all personal watercraft must have a minimum of $50,000 liability insurance before operating in Arkansas.
- Proof of insurance is required to register a boat or renew a registration.
- Operators must be at least 16 years old to operate a personal watercraft without supervision. Persons at least 12 years old may operate if a person at least 18 years old is aboard who was born before Jan.1, 1986, or has a valid boater education certificate, and is in a position to take immediate control. Persons under 12 years may operate if a person at least 21 years old is aboard who was born before Jan.1, 1986, or has a valid boater education certificate and is in a position to take immediate control.
- Personal watercraft operators cannot exceed 10 miles per hour within 100 feet of the rear of another boat or personal watercraft, and within 50 feet of either side of another boat or personal watercraft.
- Operating at a greater than no-wake speed within 100 feet of an anchored or moored vessel, shoreline, dock pier, swim float, marked swim area, swimmer, surfer, person engaged in angling or any manually propelled vessel is prohibited.
- Personal watercraft operators must have an observer 12 years of age or older to tow a skier. Mirrors are not allowed for skiing on personal watercraft. Also, the personal watercraft must be able to accommodate the operator, observer and person being towed. Personal watercraft must be designed for a minimum of three persons to tow skiers.
- Personal watercraft cannot be operated from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. Running lights do not exempt personal watercraft from this.
- The personal watercraft operator is required to wear the engine cut-off lanyard (kill switch) securely attached to his/her person, clothing or personal flotation device at all times while operating.
- Becoming airborne while jumping the wake of another vessel while operating a personal watercraft, within 100 feet of that vessel, is prohibited.
- No person who owns a personal watercraft or who has charge over or control of a personal watercraft may authorize or knowingly permit the personal watercraft to be operated in violation of the personal watercraft law. This applies to a renter, too.
- Marinas are required to have renters view a state-approved personal watercraft video before operating a personal watercraft.
For those new to boating or those who want to become more familiar with laws and navigation rules, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the U.S. Power Squadron and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary conduct boating education classes.
Motorboat and personal watercraft operators need to be aware that boating education is mandatory in Arkansas for anyone born after 1985.
The classroom courses are free and are given by the AGFC. Dates and places for the courses can be obtained by phoning 501-223-6377 or 877-493-6424. Course dates and locations can be found on the AGFC website at http://www.agfc.com/education/Pages/EducationBoating.aspx.
The AGFC also publishes a boating laws guide that all boaters should have on board. For more information, contact Boating Education, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 2 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205.