Any person born on or after January 1, 1988 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course before operating any vessel propelled by a motor of 10 HP or greater.

Personal Watercraft - PWC (WaveRunner/Jet Ski)

  • Who Can Operate a PWC? 

    • Anyone 14 years of age or older can operate a PWC if they meet one of the following requirements:

    • successfully completed an approved boating safety education course (proof of age and safety course completion must be carried during operation)

    • Are riding with a person who is at least 18 and is in compliance with the Boating Education Requirement  Law (G.S. 75A-16.2)

 

PWC Operations:

  • No one can operate a PWC on state waters between sunset and sunrise.

  • All PWC riders, passengers and those being towed must wear approved personal flotation devices.

  • If the PWC is equipped with a lanyard-type engine cut off switch, the lanyard must be worn by the operator at all times.

  • A PWC must have a rearview mirror or an observer on board besides the operator to legally tow someone on skis or similar device.

  • PWCs must be operated at all times in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers that endanger people or property constitute reckless operation.

  • No person shall operate a personal watercraft on the waters of this State at greater than no-wake speed within 100 feet of an anchored or moored vessel, a dock, pier, swim float, marked swimming area, swimmers, surfers, persons engaged in angling, or any manually operated propelled vessel, unless the personal watercraft is operating in a narrow channel (see below).

  • No person shall operate a personal watercraft in a narrow channel at greater than no-wake speed within 50 feet of an anchored or moored vessel, a dock, pier, swim float, marked swimming area, swimmers, surfers, persons engaged in angling, or any manually operated propelled vessel.

  • No person shall operate a PWC towing another person on water skis or similar device unless the total number of persons operating, observing, and being towed does not exceed the number of passengers identified by the manufacturer as the maximum safe load for the vessel.

  • Unreasonable or unnecessary weaving through congested boat traffic.

  • Jumping the wake of a vessel within 100 feet of the vessel or when visibility is obstructed.

  • Intentionally approaching a vessel in order to swerve at the last moment.

  • Operating contrary to the "rules of the road".

  • Following too closely to another vessel, including another personal watercraft.

  • A "narrow channel” means a segment of the waters of the State 300 feet or less in width.

  • The term "following too closely" means proceeding in the same direction and operating at a speed in excess of 10 miles per hour when approaching within 100 feet to the rear or 50 feet to the side of another vessel that is underway unless that vessel is operating in a narrow channel, in which case a personal watercraft may operate at the speed and flow of other vessel traffic.

Image by Susan Weber
Image by Joshua J. Cotten

Boat Safety Topics:

  • NASBLA Boating Education Course (Required by the NC Wildlife for any person born on or after January 1, 1988)

  • New Boat Owner Specifics

    • How to connect to trailer​

    • Trailer Backing

    • Pre-cruise boat check list

    • Unloading Boat into water

    • Getting Underway

    • Loading Boat onto trailer

    • Post-Cruise boat check list

  • Docking

  • Rules of the Road

  • Boating Operation Safety             

Boat Safety Study Material:

  • Rules of the Road Flash Cards

  • Rules of the Road Quick Reference Sheet                    

Click here to learn more about our boat safety education

It is the responsibility of the boat operator to know and follow all the navigation rules.

A navigation rule can be overlooked if necessary to avoid immediate danger. For a complete listing of the navigation rules, refer to Navigation Rules of the Road, published by the U.S. Coast Guard (COMDTINST 16672.2 Series) and available through the U.S. Government Printing Office or on the Web at www.navcen.uscg.gov.

Navigational buoy