Boating Season in New England: What You Need to Know

A young boy takes a paddle off the rack at a New England boat harbor.

In most New England states, May marks the beginning of boating season. From boating laws and licensing requirements to tips for prepping your boat for cruising the waters this year, we at All-Purpose Storage are here to give you the rundown on what to keep in mind.

How to Prepare for Boating Season in the New England States

Most importantly, boat maintenance is crucial to your safety out on the water. Ensure your watercraft is properly working by conducting routine maintenance checks—including inspecting the hull, engine, electrical systems, and safety equipment. Perform any necessary repairs or upgrades before the season begins.

Additionally, stock your boat with essential safety equipment, such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, distress signals, and a first aid kit. Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of these items to ensure a safe boating experience. Carry a charged phone or marine radio for communication in emergencies.

Do I Need a Boating License? 

In many places (like the United States), you do not typically need a license to operate a boat for recreational purposes. However, there are general requirements related to boater education or certification, particularly for operating motorized vessels.

In the U.S., states set their own boater education and certification requirements. Some states require the completion of a boating safety course, while others may have age restrictions or exemptions based on age and experience. Also, personal watercraft (PWC) operators, such as Jet Skis, often have specific requirements, including minimum age limits and mandatory safety education courses.

Therefore, it’s crucial to check the specific regulations in your state or the state where you plan to operate the boat to determine whether you need to complete a boating safety course or obtain any certifications before taking to the water. Even if not required by law, completing a boating safety course can help you become a more knowledgeable and responsible boater, enhancing safety for yourself and others.

Watercraft Laws by State

Watercraft laws may vary by state and cover various topics, encompassing registration, boater education requirements, operating under the influence (OUI) laws, navigation rules, and safety equipment requirements. The following list of general regulations are applicable in each of the New England states:

  • All motorized watercraft must be registered.
  • Navigation rules follow federal regulations.
  • Operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.
  • Required safety equipment includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, and distress signals.

However, additional and more specific laws for each state are listed below. 

New York Watercraft Laws

In New York State, some municipalities do not allow the use of personal watercraft. Other rules and restrictions include: 

  • All boat operators must possess a boating safety certificate.
  • Boat operators must be at least 14 years of age.
  • Boat operation is prohibited before dawn or after dusk.
  • Life jackets must be in fair condition, properly fitted to the wearer, and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Maine Watercraft Laws

Boaters born after January 1, 1999, must complete a boater safety course.

New Hampshire Watercraft Laws

Boaters aged 16 and older must complete a boating safety education course.

Vermont Watercraft Laws

Boaters born after January 1, 1974, must complete a boater education course.

Massachusetts Watercraft Laws

Boaters aged 12 through 15 must complete a boater safety course to operate certain vessels.

Connecticut Watercraft Laws

Boaters aged 12 through 15 must complete a boating safety course to operate certain vessels.

Consider Boat Storage Water Under the Bridge From All-Purpose Storage

Do you have a boat (or another vehicle) you’d like to store off-site—whether you lack the space at home or want to keep it in a designated spot until boating season arrives? At All-Purpose Storage, our wide range of locations across the New England states can provide just that. Find a self storage facility nearest you today to get in touch about your boat storage needs.

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