Do you know what the 100-foot rule is for boaters in Georgia? How about the mandatory boating education requirement for those born after January 1, 1998? A lot of us focus so much on the fun aspects of boating that we really don’t think about the laws that govern our favorite activity. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about some of the laws related to safety, and how you can find out more about Georgia’s boating laws.
We will start with the 100-foot rule. If you are boating on Georgia’s waters and you are under way, you are required to stay at least 100 feet away from other boats, docks and property. This is to prevent wake created by your boat that might endanger others on the lake or damage property. As of July 1 2023, there is also a 200-foot rule for wake boats or boats that create a wake that can be surfed. Since these boats create a larger wake, they need to stay farther away to minimize any dangers. Of course, these distance laws are not applicable if you are approaching a dock for the purpose of tying it up.
If you want to operate a boat on Georgia’s waters and you were born after January 1, 1998, you must be able to show proof that you have taken an approved boating course. Failure to do so could result in a ticket being issued by local authorities. There are several places you can take an approved course including Atlanta’s Boating Club (www.americasboatingclubatlanta.org) and your local Coast Guard Auxiliary (wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=070-02-09).
Let’s address life jackets. A life jacket is required for each person that you have aboard your vessel. You must also ensure that there is one to fit each individual. What you may not realize is that the life jacket is not valid unless it has a visible Coast Guard-approved marking on it. Keep in mind if the Coast Guard-approved markings have worn off, they are no longer considered valid.
Fire extinguishers are required on all motorized vessels. You probably know this. Did you know that if you have a disposable fire extinguisher that is over 12 years old, it must be replaced regardless of whether it has ever been used? Be sure to check the dates. If your fire extinguishers are 12 years or older, it’s time to buy new ones.
I imagine there was at least one law discussed here that was new to you. Georgia has an entire handbook of boating laws. There are many more that you may not know. If you would like to obtain a copy of the handbook, you can download a free version by going to the Boat-ed site at www.boat-ed.com/georgia/handbook/.